I spent many spring and fall sunrises during my college years with several buddies doing covert field operations. We met at a pre-determined location at dawn with our backpacks of equipment, hopped into a single vehicle, and headed out to the rendezvous point. Sometimes it was the backwaters of the Wisconsin River, sometimes it was Buena Vista Marsh, or myriad other locations determined by the quality of the intel.
We were, of course, searching for migrant songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, anything with wings really. Armed with our spotting scopes and binos and a backpack of snacks and field guides we scoured shorelines, craned our necks to pick warblers out of the new spring foliage, and kept an ear open always anticipating an outburst from a team member followed by a mad dash to get a look at the first . . . of the year.
Observing wild creatures in their native habitat, the habitat created for them by the good Lord, is one of the greatest joys we can experience. Our group, which still meets up every several years in various incarnations and in various locations throughout the continental United States, came to realize after some time that “time in the field” could be directly correlated with observing new species, new interactions, new behaviors of these wild creatures. It’s common sense, the more time you spend doing something the more you understand it, the better you get at it, the more nuance you take note of.
“Time in the field” became a bit of a code. Whenever anyone observed something extraordinary, “time in the field” would echo throughout the room.
This is true in all scientific fields in general and is still very much true in the search for new species as well as species thought to be extinct, like the Bouvier’s red colobus monkey which was just re-discovered. What a blessing! One of God’s amazing creatures that we thought was lost is still here. As we are tasked with knowing and exercising dominion with this creature in mind, this is a cause for celebration!
Make a point of spending “time in the field” where you live. You will come to know it and see it in new ways, and who knows what you might discover!