For the Birds: Birding New Year’s resolutions

Photo by Chris Bosak A black duck hides in the grasses near a pond in northern New Hampshire, July 2020.

I dreaded looking it up, but as it turns out, there was nothing to dread.

Let me explain.

There are a handful of regular birding columns that I write every year about this time. One is on Christmas gifts for the birdwatcher, one is about the Christmas Bird Count, one is on my birding highlights of the year, and one is on my New Year’s resolutions for the coming year.

It is the resolution column that I dread looking back on. There are sure to be many failures, and I just hope there are a few successes to go along with it.

I was surprised when I looked up last year’s resolution column. As it turns out, I didn’t write one last year after all. Maybe there was too much going on, maybe I figured I wouldn’t stick to the resolutions anyway, or maybe COVID’s first Christmas had me so down I just couldn’t bring myself to write a forward-thinking, optimistic column.

Well, COVID is still with us and wreaking havoc on another holiday season, but I am not going to let it win this year. So here’s my latest birding New Year’s resolution column.

I am going to get reacquainted with ducks. I know that sounds odd, but when I lived near Long Island Sound, I would visit the water frequently to see which ducks were around. Ducks became my favorite type of bird to watch, and I loved peering through the spotting scope to bring them close.

When I moved a bit north, I lost track of the many ducks that visit New England. Sure, I lived across the street from a small lake, but a few hooded mergansers and ring-necked ducks were about the only fowl that visited. Other than mallards and Canada geese, of course. The pond a short walk away through the woods was a good place to see wood ducks in the spring and fall, but it just wasn’t the same as seeing the large variety of ducks on Long Island Sound during the winter.

So I stopped making any effort at all to see ducks. Well, 2022 will be different. There are plenty of large lakes around, and Long Island Sound isn’t terribly far away. It may take a little more effort than it used to, but it’s going to happen.

Secondly, I will get up early more often to go birdwatching. I used to get up before the sun and hit the woods or put the canoe on the water fairly regularly. I wouldn’t say it never happens anymore, but it is far less frequent these days. Everyone knows that the morning is the best time to look for birds and other wildlife. Birds are more active, the sunrises can be spectacular, and there’s no beating the morning light for photos. Staying in bed, however, is such a strong temptation. This year I will fight the urge to stay under the covers and get out there — not every day, mind you, but more often than it has been lately.

Finally, I will get more involved with land conservation. I’ve served on a land trust’s board of directors, and I’ve helped several other conservation organizations with publicity and in other ways, so it’s not like I haven’t given back at all. But it’s time to step it up a notch. With so many local organizations, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that needs a hand. Speaking of hands, this resolution includes getting my hands dirty on trail restorations, eradicating invasive plants or doing something else to improve a piece of land. Maybe I’ll make my boys join me too.

So there it is. The return of my resolution column. I’ll check in next year and let you know how I did.

Do you have any nature-related resolutions? Drop me a line and let me know.

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