Blind contour drawing is something I've never been comfortable with. All things considered I think my drawings turned out pretty well. I tried to focus on the subject and plan where I wanted to start based on where it seemed the best connecting point would be. My attention was on the shape of the subject and the scale it should be on my paper space. It was interesting focusing on connecting the motion of my hand to the visual input from what I was seeing. The process did make me feel more focused and connected to my subject.
Drawing from a photo does have the advantage of the subject being still, but I did not feel much connection to the photo. It is much less exciting to see a photo of a bird than to see one in real life.
If I had not been drawing the bird from the photo I would not have payed as much attention to the shape of the bird or the subtle color differences between the feathers. I'm not certain I would have noticed the bird's claws wrapped around the branch.
Noticing the intricate details about the world around us is part of the point of nature journaling. If you miss those details it is like knowing the melody of a song and only half the lyrics.