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Welcome RBGBs! May 3, 2019

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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It’s a wet, cold spring. I have been watching my feeder for rose-breasted grosbeaks, hoping they will show up on time.

This is year 8 for listing species. In the past seven years, three times my first sighting of an RBGB was on May 3. Today.

May 3 is also the latest they’ve shown up. There was an early-bird sighting one April 26. Two April 29 sightings. One May 1.

It’s been so dreary I wouldn’t blame them for taking their time, but one showed up at neighbor’s feeder last weekend, a mere 2 miles away.

A Baltimore oriole, a ruby-throated hummingbird—they showed up today in the cold rain.

A watched feeder never produces an RBGB.

Maybe I’ll put a welcome sign on the window.

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8BY1: Quarterly Report April 3, 2019

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It’s been a long winter, and it doesn’t feel like I’ve listed a lot of birds yet, beyond the usual suspects, but apparently I’ve had my best first quarter since beginning my annual lists. Last year I added several when I went to Maryland, but this year, I added only one on my visit. My brief forays to Portland early in the year got me some water birds.

Here’s what I’ve got so far: downy woodpecker, house finch, white-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, mourning dove, Carolina wren, American crow, mallard, rock pigeon, red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture, herring gull, great black-backed gull, European starling, red-breasted merganser, common eider, common loon, long-tailed duck, bufflehead, common goldeneye, black scoter, northern mockingbird, great black hawk (the rarity whom I got to see for the second time just 27 days before it died, and yes, its death was heartbreaking), harlequin duck, wild turkey, Canada goose, hairy woodpecker, great blue heron, northern flicker, blue jay, northern cardinal, black-capped chickadee, red-bellied woodpecker, American goldfinch, dark-eyed junco, house sparrow, white-throated sparrow, American robin, common raven, pine grosbeak (my first ever), cedar waxwing, bald eagle, rough-legged hawk, northern harrier, pileated woodpecker, barred owl, hooded merganser, common redpoll, eastern bluebird, snow bunting, red-winged blackbird, killdeer, belted kingfisher, wood duck, song sparrow, black duck, Wilson’s snipe, American kestrel, fish crow, black vulture, eastern phoebe, common grackle.

Year-to-date count: 62. (2012: 40. 2013: 53. 2014: 40. 2015: 43. 2016: 56. 2017: 50. 2018: 58.)

No Snowy March 30, 2019

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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I’m worried that I won’t see a snowy owl this year—that 2019 is the year that my snowy luck runs out.

I’ve had this worry before. In 2017, I listed one just under the wire: Christmas Eve.

Before 2014, I’d never even seen a snowy owl in the wild, but then there was an irruption, and suddenly they were around and findable. I saw my first one ever in February 2014. I counted 2015’s in January. (The only list I keep is my first sighting of a species in a year; I’ve seen more snowy owls than I’ve listed, but only a few.)

It’s not that by 2016 I was expecting to see one, but when I at last found one in November, I had to admit that I was getting used to being able to find them.

When November 2017 passed without a sighting, I was pretty sure my luck had run out, but December 24 was our day. We saw another four weeks later, in 2018.

And here it is the end of March. I didn’t see any of the owls that came through at the end of last year, and I haven’t seen one to count yet this year, so now, if I get one, it will be at the end of the year, if it happens at all.

After a five-year listing run, this could be the year I don’t see a snowy owl.

In other news, the red-winged blackbirds are back.

Early Cartwheel February 28, 2019

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My birthday isn’t until the weekend, but yesterday I was at the gym that has a big classroom, and no one was in it, and the lights were out, so I got off the treadmill and went into said classroom and did three cartwheels—because there is space and because if it turned out that this is the year I can’t do a cartwheel, someone would find my broken body fairly quickly—but the cartwheels were fine, that is, they felt fine, I’m sure they weren’t perfect or gorgeous, and I haven’t attempted one since last year, and I was in fact worried about this year because I haven’t been to the gym enough to keep up what little weight resistance/lifting I do with my arms and I haven’t been keeping up with yoga so I’ve barelyrarely been supporting my own weight and my arms are starting to look like old-lady arms—still, it made me happy to do the cartwheels, but because I did them before my birthday I’m not sure they can count as my birthday cartwheel as I think I have to turn the next number first, so the question again becomes where can I conveniently and safely attempt my birthday cartwheel as there are few readily available indoor spaces and outside is hard, dangerous ice?

Late. January 31, 2019

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Gets harder in the winter, gotta be a fake or shiver.
It takes a great deal out of me.
. . . I wanna go out but I wanna stay home.
—Courtney Barnett, “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party”

I spend a lot of time alone. I like being alone, until I want to not be alone—that moment when the content feeling of solitude shifts to an anxious one of isolation.

Especially in winter, when I suddenly I realize I haven’t seen my neighbors, as we’re all hunkered down, hiding from the cold and the dark. Hibernating. I realize I haven’t gone out and done anything. I want to. But I don’t want to.

We need to prod one another. Sometimes we do. It’s good.

But it’s hard to feel inspired. It’s hard to stay in and start projects. It’s hard to go out and see friends.

I am not overly busy with friends, but I am not getting anything accomplished beyond maintenance. I am watching dark comedy on Netflix. I am in bed early, reading. I am getting nothing done.

The days are getting longer, but they are still short, and so cold.

Oh. January 31, 2019

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I think I’ve been drinking too much. Far from having a dry January—people do this, and it sounds like an interesting exercise—I have been having a very wet one.

I love having happy hour when Tim gets home. But once I get a little happy, I want to get more happy.

January is tough, and this one has been, in part because we discovered early in the month that Tim needed to have two wisdom teeth out, and he couldn’t get an appointment to have it done until the 29th, so for three weeks or so he had to live with what was going on. He took antibiotics, it got better, but it couldn’t have been fun. Getting calories was an adventure. Less than 48 hours ago—and driving 47 miles each way in a snowstorm—he got the two teeth extracted. He seems to be doing very well.

One of the ways he was self-medicating, besides the massive ibuprofen, was good old-fashioned alcohol. Turns out that because he’s not taking the real painkillers postsurgery, alcohol is not contraindicated during his recovery. So it was back to happy hour again last night.

In the January isolation, I am like a happy puppy when Tim gets home, ready for jazz in Martini Lounge and a Vesper with a twist.

Ice. January 31, 2019

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Winter can be isolating. Some isolation is choice. Some is not. Sometimes one may find oneself choosing isolation and not choosing it at the same time.

The January weather has been challenging. Deep cold. A weekend snowstorm dumping fabulous, x-country-skiable snow, but the temperatures so low and the wind chill so high that venturing out was impossible for me. This was immediately followed by a 50-degree warming that brought lots of rain, which of course produced flooding here and there. Lots of water falling on 18 inches of snow and ice. Good times.

Often I refuse to leave the house.

But yesterday, after about 5 inches of snow the night before, after I went out to shovel enough to get cars out, I saw that I had a window to ski. The sun was out and would be for a few more hours. The temperature was in the teens. There was no wind to speak of.

So out I went, onto the rail trail and into the fluffy stuff. There was just enough snow cover on the icy base. I was the first and the only one out there.

Sunshine. Exercise. I hope it happens again.

Still More 153s January 31, 2019

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Because 153s.

  • On December 3, on the VPR website: “According to the Agency of Education website, 63 percent of the state’s K-12 students will live in a new union school district created by Act 46 and by Acts 153 and 156—two previously adopted school district consolidation laws—by July 2019.”
  • On December 14, I got some cash for the weekend, added it to what was in my wallet, counted it all: $153.
  • On January 3, in Portland, I logged into a work project, logged out, and time spent was 1 hour, 53 minutes. Amazingly, it happened again the next day.
  • On January 5, at the rest stop on the way home from Portland, tax on our food totaled $1.53 (see photo).
  • Yesterday, because I had insomnia the night before, I checked my Fitbit to see how the app tracked my sleep. Of the 7 hours, 15 minutes I was “sleeping,” I allegedly spent 1 hour, 53 minutes of that awake (see screen shot). I can guarantee you that at best, I was asleep only 1 hour, 53 minutes. If that.

Tax.

“Awake.”

7BY4: Quarterly Report and Summation January 3, 2019

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A winter wren in Central Park. Red-breasted nuthatches, finally, at my feeder. Canada (used to be gray) jays in the Adirondacks, as well as some evening grosbeaks (gasp!) at a feeder right across from a random parking spot in Keene Valley. Pine siskins at my feeder and rusty blackbirds on the rail trail. A great black hawk in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park, a rarity from South/Central America, who was devouring a squirrel when we saw him/her. Snow buntings in eastern Vermont. On December 30, from our front porch, we heard a great-horned owl in the tree next to us.

These were my last nine species of 2018, bringing my count to exactly the same as last year’s: 147.

Here is the year’s full list: dark-eyed junco, hairy woodpecker, tufted titmouse, downy woodpecker, American goldfinch, red-bellied woodpecker, black-capped chickadee, house finch, Carolina wren, white-breasted nuthatch, blue jay, American crow, European starling, rock pigeon, mourning dove, northern cardinal, purple finch, red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk, Canada goose, turkey vulture, herring gull, wild turkey, pileated woodpecker, eastern bluebird, snowy owl, mallard, American robin, northern harrier, short-eared owl, red-breasted merganser, common loon, surf scoter, house sparrow, common eider, northern mockingbird, common goldeneye, bufflehead, great black-backed gull, merlin, song sparrow, red-winged blackbird, cedar waxwing, fish crow, bald eagle, common grackle, greater scaup, lesser scaup, common merganser, American wigeon, ring-billed gull, hooded merganser, snow goose, American kestrel, brown creeper, black vulture, great blue heron, northern shoveler, belted kingfisher, wood duck, golden-crowned kinglet, white-throated sparrow, long-tailed duck, osprey, killdeer, northern flicker, great-crested cormorant, eastern phoebe, ruby-crowned kinglet, Savannah sparrow, tree swallow, brown-headed cowbird, yellow-bellied sapsucker, eastern towhee, Wilson’s snipe, American woodcock, chipping sparrow, broad-winged hawk, yellow warbler, field sparrow, bobolink, eastern meadowlark, yellow-rumped warbler, common raven, chimney swift, rose-breasted grosbeak, house wren, common yellowthroat, northern parula, blue-gray gnatcatcher, worm-eating warbler, barn swallow, gray catbird, hermit thrush, ovenbird, great-crested flycatcher, green heron, solitary sandpiper, wood thrush, indigo bunting, northern rough-winged swallow, black-and-white warbler, Baltimore oriole, scarlet tanager, red-shouldered hawk, red-eyed vireo, Acadian flycatcher, brown thrasher, blue-winged warbler, prairie warbler, Cooper’s hawk, Carolina chickadee, bay-breasted warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, yellow-bellied flycatcher, warbling vireo, American redstart, eastern kingbird, eastern wood pewee, ruffed grouse, eastern whip-poor-will, snowy egret, great egret, glossy ibis, willet, lesser yellowlegs, cliff swallow, black-throated green warbler, ruby-throated hummingbird, barred owl, blue-headed vireo, peregrine falcon, mute swan, black-crowned night heron, least tern, common tern, common nighthawk, American bittern, winter wren, red-breasted nuthatch, Canada jay, evening grosbeak, pine siskin, rusty blackbird, great black hawk, snow bunting, great-horned owl.

(147 species. 2017: 147. 2016: 118. 2015: 125. 2014: 118. 2013: 173. 2012: 115.)

In Hiding January 2, 2019

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It as if the birds know it is January 1. The annual species count rolls back to zero. Black-capped chickadees refuse to show themselves at the feeder, as do goldfinches and two species of daily visiting woodpecker. At least, they don’t show up before you’re on the road again, trying to bird from the fast-moving car in backlit conditions, thinking “some sort of hawk” or “some sort of gull” or “were those turkeys?” Can’t list a maybe. Even early on the 2nd at the bakery next door, the permanent-fixture-please-feed-me-those-flaky-crumbs house sparrows are nowhere to be seen.