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Birdathon 2012: Bum Knee Puts the Kibosh on My Bushwhacking Plans

Deer Pond during Birdathon 2011

There will be no Birdathon bushwhacking adventure this year. And I am not happy about it.

What is the Birdathon?

The Birdathon is the National Audubon Society’s largest annual fundraising event and the globe’s biggest birding competition. The goal is to find as many bird species as possible within a given region in a single 24-hour time period. The bird species are identified by sight and/or sound, and there is no minimum time investment. Although most people participate in teams, I have always gone solo.

In the past, I participated in the Onondaga Chapter’s Birdathon, which occurs on the third Saturday in May. Fortunately, that chapter’s area of coverage includes Herkimer County, where both the Five Ponds and Pepperbox Wildernesses are located.

For the first few years that I participated, in the later 1990’s and early 2000’s, I stayed on the trail system within the Five Pond Wilderness.

After an eight-year hiatus, I restarted my participation in 2010. Instead of hitting the trails again, I decided to incorporate my new favorite pastime, bushwhacking, into this birding activity. I bushwhacked into the Pepperbox Wilderness, with limited success and only fair weather.

The routes I covered during the two years were very similar. During 2010, I bushwhacked around Sunshine Pond before heading directly to Cropsey Pond for the night. In 2011, I tried to bushwhack around Moshier Ponds, until I finally gave up and headed directly to Cropsey Pond. Both years yielded similar results, with 49 species in 2010 and 51 species in 2011. I had a different plan for 2012, where I would combine parts of the previous two years but instead start at Cropsey and head to Sunshine Pond, with a possibility of heading further east toward Raven Lake, if time allowed.

Unfortunately, three weeks before the big event on May 19, I woke one morning with a nagging knee pain. Over the next two days, my left knee swelled up to nearly twice its normal size. Although most of the swelling dissipated over a few days, the pain remained and a few days before the big day, I made the painful decision to drop out of competition this year.

Adding insult to injury, the weather was perfect on May 19, with sunny skies and warm temperatures.

Now I am focused on trying to salvage the remaining prime bushwhacking season. The cause of the pain remains a mystery, though hopefully an MRI in the near future might shed some light on the subject. My suspicion is osteoarthritis. Only time will tell.

For now, I try to spend my convalescence in a positive manner. I rest the knee as much as possible, ice and/or heat it occasionally, take excessive amounts of pain relievers, limp everywhere I go and dream of being out in the Adirondack forests enjoying the spring weather, hordes of black flies and the singing birds.

I am hoping it will not be a total loss of the spring and/or summer. That would really suck. I might even run out of stuff to blog about.

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2 comments on “Birdathon 2012: Bum Knee Puts the Kibosh on My Bushwhacking Plans

  • ‘Sorry ’bout your knee! Would be fun to join you on such an adventure, sometime.

  • bushwhackingfool

    May 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks! We can definitely arrange a trip sometime. Plus, I’m planning on getting a guide’s license later in the year, and then I’ll probably offer my services on this very website.

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