Yesterday I participated in the Winter Bald Eagle Survey. My route was the Winooski River, from Waterbury to Lake Champlain. While I did not see any eagles, I got to see the river in its winter splendor. It was cold. The day started at 3 below zero and got all the way up to 6 degrees. Here is the Winooski River as I saw it yesterday.
Yesterday I volunteered for the second time for the Mid-Winter Eagle Survey. My route was the Winooski River, from Waterbury to Lake Champlain. I stopped at several spots along the river, crisscrossing and paralleling as I went. Unlike last year, this year I did see one Bald Eagle, perched overlooking the mouth of the river. Like last year, I took photos as I went. Here is my January 2017 Winooski River Portrait:
I recently volunteered for the Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey. The target date was today so I headed out early to look for our national bird. My route was the Winooski River, from Waterbury to Lake Champlain. This is a pretty long route and it meant lots of planning to figure out which spots I could stop along to river to try to find eagles. I ended up stopping at 14 points along the river. I saw no eagles. I did, however, get to see a lot of the river.
The day was cloudy, just above freezing, with snow showers and rain showers and a mix falling briefly. Following is a January portrait of the Winooski River, or, at least, part of the Winooski River. It was beautiful. I was lucky to get to see so much of it in one day.
I took some time to walk briefly after work today. I walked along the river in Winooski. I thought I might see if I could find some spring migrating birds. The river was high. It roared. I could hardly hear any birds singing until I had walked far enough away. Lots of snow is melting. There was lots of snow this winter. It will be melting for a while.
I saw a few birds–Red-Winged Blackbirds, Hairy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse. The usual types. I ducked off the trail at one point to listen and look. I saw some movement by a large puddle under the silver maples. I pointed my binoculars and saw a Rusty Blackbird. Boom! That is a fine bird to see. They are more and more uncommon and I had given up on seeing one this spring. I certainly wasn’t expecting to see one today. But there it was.
I like that about birding. I go out and just hope to see something. Sometimes one bird makes it all worthwhile. That happened today. It like to see whatever I see but most of the time there is some surprise. First White Throated Sparrow of the year, or a Catbird still around in December, or a Rusty Blackbird when I had not expected to see one. The unpredictability is a gift. Not being in control makes me feel more connected to the world. Being a spectator can take away the stress of modern life. It gives me a good sense of perspective.
Tomorrow morning I will rise early and go somewhere to look and listen again. I may see nothing new. But I am sure I will see something interesting. Hopefully I will be surprised. It should be a fairly warm morning. That alone will make me feel good.
I had to work today. I got to present a workshop, twice, on getting organized for the college admissions process. Each session had an audience of about 200 people. It was a lot. It was a little scary. That is why I did it.
If I am not doing something a little scary on a regular basis then I am not learning and growing. When I say “scary” I mean something that at least makes me uncomfortable, something that requires a risk, something that I have never done before. It always a little scary to present to a large group. If I totally miss the mark, then a large group of people will notice that, but when it works well it feels pretty good.
I don’t want to have too much routine in any area of my life. Routines are comforting and safe and it can be really nice to have that at times. If I get into too much of a routine, however, than I stop liking what I am doing. In my job, every day is different, every week is different, every year is different one to the next. That is not easy sometimes, but I certainly won’t get bored that way. If I can take risks often enough, then I will stay interested and I will keep developing as a professional and as a human being.
So I offered a workshop I had never offered before. I got some positive feedback, so at least for some participants it went well. Phew. Before I headed home I took a half hour to walk along the Winooski River, to calm my mind. The snow, 18 inches of it in Winooski, was quickly melting. The temperature got up to 45 degrees today. It wasn’t sunny but the snow slumped and melted. The river was starting to run high.
I watched ducks on the river. I saw three common goldeneye diving for mussels or whatever else they could find. One was hanging out under the Route 7 bridge in a hole in the ice. I saw a bufflehead, always cool to see. I watched a couple of mallards fly in and start dabbling on another open patch of water right below me. I saw my first cormorant of the year as well. I even got to hear a fish crow, which is hard to tell apart visually from your typical American crow but has a distinct nasal call. I watched the water flow around the ice and listened as the ice groaned–I think it is ready for spring.
I have realized that the reason I have enjoyed birding is that it is always new. Every time I go out I am surprised. I may see birds I expect and I may not, but there is always something I don’t expect. The weather may offer something curious, I may see a new species, I may just enjoy being in a new place. I always discover something. There is no bad birding experience. I always take the chance that I will be disappointed. I never am.