|A Great Horned Owl. Top of the food chain. Good for|
marketing blog posts.
Until that book settled in my Kindle, I had no idea that there was a thing called "birding," or that there was an entire world of hikers, world travelers, citizen scientists, ornithologists, and conservationists who spent much of their waking time watching and studying birds.
For me, this activity was an epiphany--who else knew? It turns out, 50 million Americans plan an outing to observe birds every year.
But if birding was epiphany, it would also turn out to be escape. In early 2016, I needed to get away from my screens in the worst way, far from our new administration and the damage it was inflicting on the American democratic experiment. My Facebook feed was turning toxic, and Twitter went from being noise to a black hole of contempt sucking energy and goodwill out of our nation.
In the process, I traded tweets for tweets, heading into the woods with my Sibley bird book, camera, ebird app, and binoculars, sometimes with an experienced guide from Mass Audubon. It was like stepping inside a huge video game (with fresh air) where I needed to focus, observe, and, in the words of Monty Python, prepare for something completely different.
Flash ahead to December 2019. I now have 286 species on my life list. (There are people who count nearly that many different birds every few months, but I persist.) More to the point, I now know what a life list is. The Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary and Plum Island have become second homes and places of refuge. And every so often, by being patient and lucky, I'll take a picture I like of a bird I like.
Here, then, in an ongoing trade of tweets for tweets, are my favorites photos from 2019:
|This is an Egret that I photographed early in the morning with my friend Rebecca|
for one of her excellent "running with" birding articles.
|These two Pileated Woodpeckers met me on our driveway as I returned home from a run. They were nice enough to|
stick around while I dashed inside to get my camera.