Although I have always thought New Year’s Day to be a sort of silly holiday where the only thing that is celebrated is the changing of a number on a calendar, I honestly can’t help reflect on the year past and most of all anticipate what wonders of nature wait for me around the next birding trail in the coming year.
Birders more than anyone else I know enjoy talking about the birds of days gone by as much as the anticipation of the birds of the coming season. Those very special birds seen with special people in wonderful places will always be part of who we are until we are birding in the big nature preserve in the sky, and perhaps even after that. I am as guilty as anyone else. As soon as there is a lull in the bird activity on a field trip I usually look around just to say to someone, “I remember the time when….”
But assuming that I have more fields to wander and birding trails to meander it is time to think ahead. So just in case they are listening I would like to give a shout out to all the birds, new and old, I will see in 2020.
If you are life bird for me be sure I spot you with a special friend along. For as magnificent as it is to see a bird I have never seen before I want someone next to me to share it with. After all there is not much sense in having such a spiritual experience if there is not someone who, when you see each other, even after years have passed, that you can sit with and recall that day when that bird was right there seemingly just for us to see.
Of course it does not have to be an old friend. It could be a new birding friend or someone that just wandered up the trail at the right time. No matter, the experience will bind you both together as long as the love of nature stays in your soul.
I don’t want you to make it easy! Well, maybe sometimes. I want to see a new bird when the Meadowlands’ cold winds are whipping, when the snow and ice cover the trail, and when the rain drops obstruct my binoculars. At least then I will have made sense of my freezing hands and toes and soaking wet feet and it will be only then that I will be sure that all is right in the world.
Of course there are those times when easy would be good, like when I am exhausted sitting on a bench ready to go home and that special bird lands on a tree right next to me. Or when there is a rare bird report and I drive all the way there, get out of the car and actually see the bird! A few of those would not really be bad.
To all the birds of 2020 I have seen in the past, do not worry, I have not forgotten you. You have played a major part of who I am and helped make my life a wonderful and special journey. Please keep allowing me to see the Chickadees hanging upside down over my head and the Blue Jays taking peanuts from the backyard feeder. I will always need to see the Canvasbacks wintering at DeKorte Park, the Egrets gathering on migration and the Killdeer scurrying along the ground. The goosebumps I get from seeing a Bald Eagle or Peregrine Falcon will never stop coming and an Osprey on the nest will always help me understand and remember the good things that we can all accomplish.
And to all the birds I promise I will get myself off the couch even when I am not feeling that great to come out for a visit. After all, I know that all my wonderful experiences could not be had sitting inside. So even as the back gets sore and the old legs don’t work as well I will be out there not only for myself but also for the folks that can no longer make it. I will be sure to let them know that I saw all of you and you are doing well.
And finally it is not enough to let you know how much I look forward to birding in the New Year. After all, there is a big responsibility that goes along with that. Just to let you all know I will do what I can to protect and preserve the places you need to survive.
I know too well that we are at the crossroads and what we do or fail to do will mean whether future generations get to have you as part of their lives the way we all have for so many years. So just to let you know it is my hope that 2020 will be a new beginning, when we all join together to be sure that everyone gets to live in a safe environment and learns to love, cherish and most of all visit with the birds, the same way I have been blessed to, for many years to come
Happy New Year! See you in the Meadowlands.