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New Year!

September 8, 2010

Hello Birders, Somewhat Birders, Wannabe Birders, Lapsed Birders, Potential Birders, Future Birders, Past Birders! We’re not all that religious here at Birds and Words (in fact, the R word hardly ever comes up), but we do enjoy observing certain cultural/religious traditions. Tonight marks the beginning of a new year. I’ll celebrate by dipping pieces of apple in honey, with family and close friends. I love this time of year (not just because the weather is finally perfect, it’s almost apple-picking season, the leaves are about to turn); I love taking the time to reflect on the past year, and think about what I’d like for the year to come.

After all, this past year was a biggie, in bird-terms. It was My First Year as a Somewhat Birder. I have to admit that birding has taken me by surprise. I never thought I could stand still for hours, pointing my binoculars and just looking (and, occasionally, SEEING!). I never thought I’d happily set the alarm for 5 am. I never thought my heart beat would race when I heard the word migration. (OK, slight exaggeration. It probably races because I know I have to set the alarm for some appalling hour.)I never thought I’d have a shelf full of bird books. (OK, total lie. I knew I’d have a ton of bird books. Especially once I discovered the ones with pictures.) I never knew I’d wear my Tilley Hat with such relish. (OK. Colossal lie. You know how I feel about my Tilley hat. Always.)

Some highlights: the bald eagles in BC, the relentless group of woodpeckers in Algonquin who refused to let me sleep past 6am, the killdeer which I accidentally called a deer kill, the dozens of warblers I saw in May, the screech owl hanging out in Oakville, the great horned owl in Whitby, and, of course the sight of at least 50 tree swallows hanging on a few branches near Blenheim, ON on what I think was possibly the windiest Spring day ever recorded in the history of humankind — they were hanging on for dear life and when they tried to fly, flew backwards. There’s something about the tree swallow’s blue plumage, and the way it glistens under the light — the same metallic blue my parents chose for their first automatic transmission car, back in 1986. And isn’t that the way it always works? We fall in love with something because it speaks to us in a language we understand.

It’s been a great year, and I can’t wait for more. Happy New Year, everyone!

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