Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Year Ends, and Begins

[Adult Black-headed Gull just south of the mouth of Cox Hall Creek on Delaware Bay, NJ, New Year's Day. Interestingly, what first drew my attention to this bird was the fact that it was a small gull fraternizing with Herring Gulls. . . Bonaparte's Gulls don't do that. Click to enlarge photos.]

Where to begin, where to end. . . it's been a long, long while since I've shared in this space, and much has happened, especially since that long while encompassed an entire Cape May fall.  Much has happened, but much more will happen in the days and years ahead, I hope most of it very fine for you, and for me.

Me, I woke at the crack of 9 a.m. after a night of revelry with dear friends to the sound of Blue Jays calling outside the bedroom window, bird number one for 2015.  A good one, too, bright and cheery and smart and alert and mischievous, all things we might aspire to be. By 10 I was out the door, and working my way south along Delaware Bay, where the Black-headed Gull pictured above greeted me, as did the Redhead below.

[This Redhead was one of 5 I saw today.  This one was at "Lake Champlain," a detention pond on Champlain Street in the Villas, NJ, found there by Roger and Kathy Horn. The second, also found by Kathy and Roger, was on the big pond at Cox Hall Creek WMA, and the final three were at the South Cape May Meadows. Redhead is generally a scarce duck in the northeast, since most winter along the Gulf of Mexico.]

I wandered peacefully and relatively purposelessly from my home community in Del Haven down to Cape May Point, accumulating 69 species for the year list in the process and trying to figure out exactly what my goals would be, birding and otherwise for 2015.  I still haven't sorted that one out; in the birding realm, my ideas ranged from doing a big year just for Cox Hall Creek WMA, where I find myself on average 2-3 times a week (mainly with the dogs), and which has a diverse enough habitat selection to have hosted 234 species all time (according to eBird), to doing a "birds without optics" big year, scoring just those species seen naked-eye or heard.  Dunno. As to the goals in the otherwise department, there's a real big "dunno;" save the world?  figure out the meaning of life?  help someone in need?  take a good picture?

In that last department, today my camera crapped out literally as I photographed the Black-headed Gull, refusing to focus at all. Back to Nikon it goes.  Now it's time to resist the temptation to buy a whole new rig.  What the hell, you only live once, right?

Anyhow, Happy New Year, it's good to be back to the blog, and here's to 2015.

[One of my favorite birds from 2014, this gray morph Eastern Screech-owl came in aggressively to my whistled imitations during the December 20 Walnut Valley, NJ Christmas Bird Count, which I've done annually since 1991, mostly with my now grown-up kids.  They were thrilled; so was I.]

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