New Year's Eve 9pm.

Everything is ready, loaded into the car. I have done this so many times on the eve of the new year that it almost takes no thought. The items I will use tonight before bed or first thing in the morning, I have on my bedside table, ready to use and go. The new journal for the year, the reference books, an extra jacket, the food that can get very cold, the diet cokes, and water bottles are on the passenger's seat, readily available for me as I need them in the morning.

My diabetes kit, clothes for the morrow, boots, the breakfast sandwich are all ready to use, grab and go. I will need to zap the turkey, egg and cheese breakfast croissant in the microwave before I leave. I am hoping of an awesome start to the countdown of the new year. I climb into bed, eat a couple of dark chocolate Hershey's kisses, turn off the light and radio, and curl up with my pillow in my nice warm flannel sheets. Good. It's 9:30pm so I should get a good night's sleep to be refreshed and ready for the dawn.

Soon it will be the New Year and the new decade, a blank slate, empty journal, the first opportunity to possibly begin a Big Year.

I sleep and awaken at 11:55pm. I put on my coat and shoes and go outside to listen. Some idiot shoots off their gun 12 times to welcome the new year, ruining the chance of me hearing, let alone seeing, anything. The silence is heavy, no fireworks, no wildlife stirring, no dogs barking, no cars going by. I take a few steps and listen. Nothing. I cock my head my left, right and behind me, in each direction, listening, but still nothing. I take a few more steps, stop, listen, look, wait and repeat. Still nothing. Everyone is where they want to be.

I go back to sleep, dreaming of colors and wings, dawn and sunrise which comes quickly. I wake up to a remembrance of light coming, the dawn beginning, a slight pink line to the east. Time to get up at last. I wake up, stretch, pet my cats, and get up. My blood sugar is good. I put on my underwear, as well as my navy blue long underwear top and bottoms, wool socks, sweat pants, a mock neck shirt, winter coat and stocking cap.

I heat up my sandwich, grab the binoculars and camera and other food and head to the truck. I get in, put the heat on as well as the heated seats, and get everything in their respective place so I can grab what I need without looking. I open my journal, write in the date: January 1, 2020, the temperature of 28 degrees, that it is or will be clear and sunny, my mileage and the time of 7:15. Sunrise is in 20 minutes. Time to head out.

First I stop at the dumpsters to drop off my bag of trash. I sense something moving on the large tree trunk. I look and, Yee Haw! My first bird of the year. It is not something boring or common that I see almost every day. It's not a crow or three as I saw last year for my first bird sighting. It's not even a vulture or starling or house sparrow or any of the so-called trash birds.

I joyfully look at the brown creeper, disbelieving my eyes. But that is what it is! Creepers are small brown birds that look like tree bark. They totally blend in with the bark, so unless they move and you catch that bit of movement, they seem invisible. I was so glad I caught that movement and was able to focus in on it.

This was an exciting omen! To see an unusual, uncommon and difficult-to-see bird as the first one of the year set a good tone. Many of us birders believe that the first bird of the year will set the tone for the rest of the year. Last year I had seen the three crows out the living room window. I had not had an exceptional year of birding or of exciting experiences. With the sighting of a brown creeper as the first bird, I could hope for a year of uncommon and unusual birds and experiences.

I could be more aware of what was directly in front of my face. I had the realization that if I would stop, even amongst the mundane, I could and would see the unusual. I could expect beauty and color, the unique and unexpected if I would only stop and look around, observe that which was around me, even when taking out the trash. The year head was looking better and better.

This would not only be reflected in my birding countdown for the year, but also in my life, my living, my explorations, even in my writing and photography, I continued birding for the rest of the day and saw another 34 species plus a couple I wasn't sure of. It was a very good day's count. The only animal I saw, and saw many of, was squirrels.

We birders are a strange, crazy group. We forego the fun and expected to see more species of birds, to increase our life list (the total amount of bird species we've seen or possibly heard in our lifetime). We spend our time looking through binoculars and out windows, driving, walking, traveling wherever we can to see and enjoy the abundant variety and colors of birds.

Today is the first day of my life. The first of the year is a most exciting day for me. It can make or break the year. This year, I think I've got it made!

January 04, 2020 02:45

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