Looking to begin birdwatching? Join Avrel Seale for “Beginner’s Luck: My First Year of Birding” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, at the Nature Speaker Series at Quinta Mazatlán World Birding Center in McAllen.
A Valley native living in Austin, Seale, is the author of 10 books and a writer for the University of Texas at Austin. Seale began filming and photographing birds during the catastrophic winter storm of February 2021 and never stopped. His presentation will include a video highlighting the best captures of his first year of birding. Nearly all of his subjects were filmed in Texas, including at Quinta Mazatlán, Estero Llano Grande State Park near Weslaco, and South Padre Island.
Capturing images of nature does not require an advanced professional camera. Nature photography can begin with your own cell phone camera. In addition to digital photography, Seale uses a cell phone and a spotting scope to capture slow-motion video that reveals the extraordinary details of bird behavior too quick to be noticed in real time.
For Seale, the challenge of photography is made greater due to a major stroke four years ago. Seale can use only his left hand, and camera shutter releases are almost exclusively on the right. Despite this hurdle Seale persevered and picked up tips and tricks on how to capture stunning images of birds and utilized a mix of tools to build his bird knowledge, including traditional field guides, Facebook Groups, and apps such as Merlin, eBird, and iNaturalist.
The benefits of birding include improving your physical and mental health by staying active and reducing stress, engaging with your community and other birders, positive economic impact on the community, and good old fashioned fun spending time outdoors. Birding can be done almost anywhere from a local park to your own back yard and does not require any extras to get started. As long as you have an interest, it’s never too late or too early to begin your birding journey.
“They say youth is wasted on the young, and I was woefully disinterested in birds for all those years I lived in the Valley,” Seale mused. “I guess I had to move 350 miles away before I realized that my hometown is basically the center of the birding universe.”
Join Quinta Mazatlán for a special presentation on “Beginner’s Luck: My First Year of Birding” with Avrel Seale Thursday March 17th at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person. Pre-purchased tickets recommended. Tickets available for purchase at www.quintamazatlan.ticketleap.com.