Below is our interview with Rob Ripma of NuttyBirder.com. Rob’s been an active birder since 17 years old, primarily bird watching in the Indiana/Ohio area.
One of my favorite parts about these interviews is getting to know birders from around the country and seeing the different habits and life lists of birders from around the world.
Hope you enjoy the interview!
1. When did you first become interested in bird watching and what has kept you interested?
My mom was always interested in birds and had lots of feeders in our yard. She started going about birding when I was a teenager, and my younger brother joined her shortly thereafter. For several years I thought they were crazy and had absolutely no interest in it at all. After being forced to go birding on some family vacations, I started to enjoy it little by little. It wasn’t until college that I really got hooked.
Now, everything I do is related to birds and birding. Traveling is a big factor in my enjoyment of birding, and there in nothing better to me than getting to bird in new places. There is always something new and different to see – you just have to get out there and look for it!
2. Where are you located and what species do you spend most of your time observing?
I live in Carmel, Indiana, about 30 minutes due north of Indianapolis. Around here, I spend a lot of time looking at warblers during the spring and fall and then at shorebirds during the late summer. Although I travel quite a bit, I spend much of my time birding at Eagle Creek Park here in Indianapolis.
3. Are you active in a local or online birding community?
I serve as the Vice President of the Indiana Audubon Society and spend a lot of time working on various projects for that organization, including planning our annual Fall Festival and co-founding the Indiana Young Birders Club.
I’m also involved in the Biggest Week in American Birding in northwest Ohio. This year, I’m very fortunate to be part of the team that will be planning all of the field trips for the 2013 festival. If you have never been to northwest Ohio in early May, be sure to check it out!
My website and blog, www.NuttyBirder.com, is becoming more and more popular in the online birding community. We are striving to provide birders with quality information about birding locations around the world. I also write a monthly blog post for www.BirdingisFun.com.
4. What is your favorite bird or your favorite birding moment? It doesn’t necessarily have to be anything rare, just something meaningful.
My absolute favorite birding moment occurred at Magee Marsh in northwest Ohio in May 2010. A Kirtland’s Warbler had been found and when we arrived, it came so close to me that my camera could not focus on it. It actually landed within inches of my foot!
5. Do you have a competitive birding interest ie a year list or life list?
Although competitive birding is not my primary focus, I do have a life list and have kept track of yearly lists in the past. My life list is at 621.
I have also competed in several big day competitions that were fundraisers for conservation organizations.
6. What is your favorite place you’ve been bird watching? This includes a birding vacation or even your own backyard.
This one is very tricky for me. I have traveled all over the United States and have birded in some amazing places. I think I will have to choose two absolute favorites – the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and southeast Arizona. Each place has so much to offer with both amazing birds and wonderful scenery.
7. What is the farthest you have traveled to see a particular bird?
The farthest have I gone for one bird was up to St Joseph, Michigan to see an Ancient Murrelet. It was a little over a three hour drive from my house. I not only ended up with the murrelet but I also saw my lifer Little Gull.
And because this is AllBestBinoculars.com, we have to ask….
8. What was your first pair of binoculars?
My first pair of binoculars was a pair of 10×50 Nikons. They were fine for a beginning birder for a couple of years.
9. What is the best pair of binocs you’ve ever owned?
My current pair of 10×42 Eagle Optics Ranger ED are the best binoculars that I have ever owned. I really prefer to use 10 power binoculars for birding.
10. The worst?
The worst pair I had was my first pair, an old pair of 10×50 Nikons.