A Good Start to The Year
Happy New Year everyone! I hope the new year is off to a great start for all of you. The greeting is a bit belated, I know. I’ve been a bit more focused on the largest of my resolutions which is to push very hard towards being a published writer (more on that subject can be found over on my writing blog, Allegory Harbor) and I felt I should get a post up before the first ten days of the year just so you know I’m still around.
I’ve not really had the time or chance to get out much into the woods. However, if I read my own blog I’d realize that’s not really much of an excuse for nature observation! Let’s put it another way. I’ve been observing but I’ve not been recording much with my camera. How’s that? I’ve even started a new section in my nature journal which is a “first viewed” chart. I’ve chalked up the usual crows, starlings, cardinals, and juncos already. Even tagged on several red tailed hawks a few days ago. (More on the first viewed chart in my next post.) As I move into this year one of my big resolutions is to try and at least update this blog four times a month and to have just as many adventures in the great outdoors. We’ll see how it goes.
In my neck of the woods, the new year was blasted in with a three day snowstorm. The snow, for the most part, was never pushed by a driving wind and instead fell gently which left me the perfect impression of what it must like to live in a snow globe. Our total accumulation was only around 6 inches. Several times I was given the opportunity of watching the morning sun filter through the falling snow and creating the illusion of daytime fireflies. Even at it’s worst and heaviest moments it was beautiful.
Yesterday was the first day the blue sky and the sun returned to the sky since the new year. Though very cold, the morning walk with my dog was stunning. Later in the day, I wandered out to our garage for an errand and noticed the sky was full of commotion. I saw hundreds of American robins clamoring around the tops of trees in our neighborhood.
As I watched, a great many of them were taking turns mobbing a crab apple tree a few apartments down. I raced back inside, called for my middle son who can get bird watching lists for extra credit and grabbed the binoculars and camera. In my excitement, I spent the next thirty minutes without a coat, hat, or gloves in sunny winter weather.
I talked with my son (who was in a coat, thank you) and I made him do what I called, the “detective work” on what he was seeing. What had been happening for the past few days? Why would the robins be acting like this? Why are we seeing robins in January? Over the next few minutes I helped him to understand what he was seeing.
Obviously hungry from being sheltered up for nearly a week or more and taking advantage of the good weather, the robins had come out of their roosting spots in order to look for food. During the autumn, I told him, I had recorded in my journal that I was seeing a high number of robins very late in the year around our neighborhood which told me they were likely roosting up somewhere nearby. This activity confirmed it for me. Thankfully, he thought all of this was pretty cool.
Then, a flash of yellow completely threw me off-guard. I walked us closer to get a better look and although wary, the birds were more concerned in their feeding than any danger we presented them. I finally got a good spot with the binoculars and was delighted to see that flock was not just built up of robins as I caught my first look ever at a Cedar Waxwing. Then, I saw there was definitely more than one.
I was delighted. Since being serious about birding last year, I’d wanted to see one of these birds. All in all, we recorded six to eight of them working the crab apple tree with the robins. I’m sure there were more but eventually the cold drove me back inside when I finally lost feeling in not only my fingertips but my hands. I watched from the kitchen window for awhile longer but two things occurred which ended the fun. One, the sun was dropping lower and two, drawn by the commotion, a flock of starlings had moved in and were getting involved. The robins, and I can only imagine their waxwing tag-alongs, started gathering up and within an hour they were gone.
I checked again this morning and sure enough, the robins were back in the area, moving around from tree to tree and hitting several other crab apple trees in the area. I’ve not seen the waxwings again but I’m sure they’re around.
I hope everyone has a fantastic 2010 and finds, in their own way, a chance to reconnect with the natural world around them.