In my almost four decades of seeking birds, I've been birding in many different ways, using many different modes of transport. From bicycles to cross-country skis, scenic railroad cars, sternwheel riverboats, pontoon boats, huge inflatable river rafts, canoes and kayaks, small airplanes, ski-lifts, wagons pulled by both horses and tractors, and all manner of motorized vehicles, I've pretty much seen them all. Then, last week, I added a new mode of birding transport to my "life-experience list": The Segway.
Lee Underschultz of Little Hocking, Ohio, is a longtime birder and horse person who discovered the Segway on a trip to Canada. She thought they'd be great to use for birding trips on the 95-acre farm she and her husband own in southeastern Ohio. She tried one out and liked it so much she bought two of the specialized "off-road" Segway X2s.
Lee contacted Bird Watcher's Digest to see if we'd be interested in trying out the Segways on a morning birding outing at Firefly Hollow, the Underschultz's farm. Oh yeah! So last week my brother Andy and I drove down to Firefly Hollow for our very first Segway experience.
I'd seen these cool, quiet, battery-powered personal transporters in cities. I even tried to book spots on a Segway tour of Chicago while visiting the Windy City several years ago. No dice. They were booked up for months in advance. Needless to say, I was really eager to experience a Segway.
Here's a link that tells you more about how a Segway works. It's an amazing machine and super easy to learn to ride, becoming intuitive within minutes.
After a quick lesson on how to operate a Segway, Lee, Andy, and I took off along the many trails through the fields and woods of Firefly Hollow.
Here's a short video about the experience.
Riding a Segway has the following advantages for birding: It's very quiet. It gives you a somewhat different perspective on the habitat than you'd get while walking or driving a car. It's a very green way to get from one place to another. Plus it's cool!
For stop-and-go birding, a Segway might seem like a lot to handle. But to get to a spot where you're going to be birding for a while, it's perhaps the neatest way to get there.
We had black-throated green warblers among the fall migrants during our birding outing. But the best bird of the morning was the first-fall red-headed woodpecker we saw in a snag near the big horse barn at Firefly Hollow. Red-headeds are my favorite North American bird.