Greetings of the season
My vacation started today, one of the many perks of a teaching career. Unfortunately, one of the many perks of living in this part of the country, the changeable weather, was today not seen as such. Instead of sleeping in, I planned to be out in the early morning hours of our lengthening day, trying to call in Eastern Screech Owls that others had been successful calling last weekend. When my clock told me it was time to get up, the weather report was saying the roads were slick with ice, and the few schools scheduled to have classes today were calling it quits. I decided slipping and sliding the back roads, even to see a cute little owl, just wasn't in my best interest. Tomorrow promises to be better, though the warming trend has dashed my immediate hopes of longer and more frequent cross country ski outings. It's nothing but wet sloppy slush, quickly dropping in its depth.
However, even without leaving the house--yet---my day has not been completely uneventful from a birding standpoint. This morning, in addition to battling the squirrels, I attempted to retrieve one of my suet feeders from the neighbor's Golden Retriever! Tigger slipped the leash, batted down the cage and unlike the squirrels, who scram momentarily at my approach, Tigger picked it up and trotted off into his yard. It would seem he has also stashed it somewhere, because we can't find it. On which list would this event be placed?
Listing----that boon/bane of the birder's life. I just today finished reading Kenn Kaufman's Kingbird Highway. Aside from telling a great story, I could relate to his experience, having been 19 at the same time in history, looking grungy myself, as was the style, and very occasionally thumbing for a ride when bike or beater failed me. It is the final chapter of his story that rings most clearly, though. He realized as his Big Year was drawing to a close that the list simply helped him see birds, and though his feat was impressive, he really didn't know the birds he was seeing. Older and wiser now, I realize that expensive travel to list birds is out of the question, both financially and ethically, as the use of fossil fuels is counterproductive to maintaining a healthy habitat for the birds, animals and ultimately, humans. My list is pathetic, anyway. As this year draws to a close, I resolve that though I will list out birds I see---as a birder, it's a compulsion!---my goal is not to see them all, but to see them well. This fits with my usual manner of birding, which is to watch, stop and enjoy in the midst of other activities; biking, hiking, canoeing or skiing, all done with binoculars within reach, and many times, the camera as well.
As you ponder your past year in this big beautiful world of possibilities, may the light of the season shine on you and your loved ones.
And....don't forget to send your nominations for the 14th edition of "I and the Bird" to Mike of 10000 Birds or me.