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Pick 6: Six Things to take on a birding trip

Planning on taking a birding trip?  Here are 6 things to remember.

1. Insect repellent
In the summer:
Summer months bring mosquitoes.  With the threat of West Nile Virus the use of insect repellent is a must.

Ticks can also be a problem in many parts of the country.

In the winter:
If you are traveling south in the winter, along the gulf coast and perhaps into south Texas, there is a wonderful little critter called the chigger.  These invisible little guys cause red bumps like a mosquito bite but itch for days.  Wrong place and wrong time can leave you covered in hundreds of chiggers.  

2. First aid kit
Make sure to have a complete first aid kit along.  You probably won't need it but is invaluable if you do.

Consider stocking it with antacids, antihistamines, decongestants and cough syrup.  Different foods, pollens and time changes can cause havoc with your system.

It never hurts to throw in a flashlight.

3.  Appropriate dress
Check the weather conditions of your destination before you leave, and pack the appropriate clothes.  Weather conditions can change suddenly so it is a good idea to prepare for multiple situations.  One example - the Texas Rio Grande Valley is a very popular winter birding location.  Temperatures in February can range from 40 deg. and windy to 90 deg. and humid.  

A hat is always a good idea.

4.  Tablet and cell phone.

An iPad, other tablet or cell phone are good tools to have.  The cell phone can be loaded with bird songs, very useful for song identification.

Wind and weather conditions provide important clues as to where the birds might be, especially during spring migration.

Use your tablet to check the BirdCast Forecasts.  http://birdcast.info/forecasts/

This is a great map for seeing current wind conditions.  http://hint.fm/wind/

Also check the local weather conditions and forecasts.

5.   Emergency Contact Information
Keep in your wallet, glove box or other obvious locations.  Include your insurance information as well as contact names and numbers.

6. Birding stuff
Sometimes the obvious is missed.  Don't forget:

Spotting scope and tripod
Camera and batteries
Video camera and batteries
Memory cards for the cameras
Tripod mount for the cameras if you use one
Window mount for the spotting scope if you have one
Field guide, something I sometimes forget.