Here is my latest column for The Hour (Norwalk, CT) and Keene Sentinel (Keene, N.H.) It’s my favorite column of the year to write: my top 10 list.
Not sure how it happened so quickly, but it’s time for me to write another year-end birding column. Each year at about this time I sit down and think about my top 10 birding experiences of past year. It’s not necessarily about the best birds I’ve seen, but rather the birding moments that most impacted me in one way or another.
What will be missing from this year’s list for the first time in about 10 years is my Thanksgiving “Duck Hunt” with my boys. The hunt is an annual tradition whereby we wake up early on Thanksgiving and visit a bunch of beaches and fresh-water bodies of water to count duck species. We try to get 10 species, but for me, the real thrill is being out with the boys looking for birds. This year I was so sick I couldn’t even get out of bed so we put the annual “duck hunt” on hold. Perhaps I’ll revisit it for another occasion. Maybe for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Or maybe just some random day this winter.
So here’s what did make the list …
10. Having the featured photo on The Birding Wire. The weekly e-newsletter features a photo in each edition and in early December it featured my photo of Pine Warblers squabbling at my suet feeder. I look at The Birding Wire each week, so it was neat to see my work as one of the featured items.
9. Having chickadees eat out of my hand. I noticed that each time I took down the feeders to fill them at my new house the chickadees would still land on the pole that holds the feeders, even though I was only a few feet away. I decided to hold off on putting the feeders back up immediately and instead extended my arm and held a handful of sunflower seeds out for the birds. They hesitated, but eventually landed and happily (if not nervously) took a seed and flew off.
8. A week-long summer camping trip with the boys. We went to the northern most part of New Hampshire and took the most remote site we could find. Gray Jays visited the camp and a Common Loon swam in the pond near the site. Of course, the call of the loon echoing at night capped off the experience.
7. Seeing a Bald Eagle nest off the coast of Norwalk. Ultimately the nest at Chimon Island did not result in young eagles being fledged, but it was still a thrill knowing they were out there. The unsuccessful nesting attempt is not surprising as many first-year nests fail. The nest still stands