Welcome December and Years-end…

It’s been a minute since I’ve last posted, and for that I am apologetic. It has been a rough road for me of late, as I battle my ongoing depression. No, you simply cannot take a magic pill and it goes away. No, you simply cannot wear a smile and pretend all is well and it goes away. For me, it appears to be a constant, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I am increasingly closer to exiting.

It’s been a year of great disappoint, and also of wonderful excitement. COVID destroyed plans for many, including me and my birding hopes, but I also made some really great new friends along the way, a couple of which stand out. The year would see my trip to Puffinhome in ruins, and also plans for my first Biggest Week in Birding Festival, among other festivals.

But I have also achieved some of my beginning objectives, including making 2020 the year of the warbler for me. I think that I ended up with 23 individual species observed, including my target species and most beautiful, the Golden-winged. Also I saw the return of my very first warbler, the Black-throated Green, which I hadn’t seen since my teens in the woodlands of Maine. I owe much of my “warblering” to my good friend, Joan Scharf, one of the luminaries of Lake County birding. Joan and I had an amazing day in mid-May at Mentor Marsh, which will always stick out in my memories for me, in addition to many trips to Lake County hotspots. Another bird not seen by me since my early teens, the Little Blue Heron made an appearance at Mentor this past spring, and I was quite fortunate to see it.

I remember starting the 2020 year off on the roadways of far western Ohio chasing down a Snowy Owl, Eurasian-collared Dove and Prairie Falcon; I ticked the Falcon, but dipped on the others. It took me three tries with 3-hour drives one way in order to see the Prairie for all of about two minutes. It was worth it, and was part of the start of my second career as a birder (not bird-watcher, noooo…. I jest!). If there is one regret that I have, it’s that I missed the entirety of the fall shorebird migration, and I love shorebirds! I just couldn’t get myself out, and the one bird I missed but wanted was a Hudsonian Godwit.

Now, I’m in the process of planning out the new year, one that will hopefully be more enriching for me as I chase down more birds. I am actively pre-planning how to get my first 100 in January, a thing here in Ohio, and will be in the fields on January 1st! I am tempted to count only the birds that I can see, versus ticking off the ones I can hear; still not sure about this more hardcore approach, but it always frustrates me when I cannot see the bird, such as the Blue-winged Warbler, which I never saw last year, but actively heard. I do hope to make much greater use of my scope in the new year as well, looking for those sea ducks, as well as the new library I put together last year.

I also have greater hopes for my blog going into the new year. I am hoping to finally begin writing reviews of birding gear, books and other stuffs, and to also provide explanations on how to bird specific hotspots and pass along tips that I’ve gotten from others. I believe in a wide open birder’s exchange, where there are no cliques or private groups, or GATEKEEPERS. We must all work together to make our hobby better and more inviting and accessible to all, not just the top 100 in Ohio. Hopefully, I can do my part in that, and if my writing brings just one new birder into the fold, I will have been successful.

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