Highlights & Gratitude For 2007

I'm a little foggy from last night's New Year's party. There was a man there who taught ballroom dance for a living and all the women took turns being twirled, whirled, hustled and rumbaed around the room. Good times.

The first bird that I saw and digiscoped for 2008--a white-breasted nuthatch. Mr. Neil tried to make a joke that seeing a white-breasted nuthatch meant a year of bad sex and Non Birding Bill wisely encouraged him to avoid inaccurate bird jokes before I have any coffee in the morning...so the fantasy writer still lives...for the moment.

I week or two ago I was tagged with a top birding moments of 2007 (for the life of me, I can't remember who tagged me) but I wanted to wait until 2007 was fully over before I put it together. I also get a wonderful email from a friend expressing gratitude for moments in the last year, so I think this will kind of morph into that as well since I have so much to be grateful for.

A huge highlight was getting to perform Play on Birds with Non Birding Bill at a Nature Festival in Ohio. I love doing this show and I love working with my husband on stage. I hope we get the opportunity again.

Digiscoping has just taken over my birding life and I've observed some really great moments with it. One big highlight was getting some great photos while at a meeting at Eastman Nature Center.

I also got a chance to digiscope a singing male indigo bunting. The bird was so focused on singing, he never noticed me. He sang so long that after I had taken all pictures I could, I just had to finally take the time to just enjoy him. What a treat and what a great bird to have such a beautiful bird in existence.

A big highlight was getting the chance to photograph and video a male golden-winged warbler at a bed and breakfast in Vergas, MN. If you follow this link, that will take to the post to watch the video of the golden-winged warbler and also of a bobolink that was singing at the bed and breakfast as well.

North Dakota was another great time, and getting the chance to observe ruddy duck courtship display was a definite highlight. I just happened to find them while exploring some remote gravel roads and spent and hour watching the males display and the females take their time in showing any interest. North Dakota was also a great chance to hang out with great friends and explore Clark Gable's grandparent's home and find a burrowing owl.

Young Cooper's hawks provided no end of entertainment from bathing in a puddle of a neighboring roof (she's a dirty girl) to nailing a pigeon right in front of my apartment building. I never ceased to be amazed at the incredible amount of nature right in front of our eyes in a busy metro area. Going out in the middle of nowhere is fun, but incredible wild stuff is happening anywhere, as long as you go out and take a moment to notice.

Banding hawks in the fall is always fun, but this year was particularly exciting because I got a chance to "yank the pigeon" and help bring hawks into the nets. I also slept in a van out in the fields to prove that if I need to, I can still rough it.

I finally had a chance to improve my shorebird watching skills! Doug Buri offered a weekend workshop in August and he promised me that I would learn my shorebirds. I was skeptical, but he promised that I would see least sandpipers within five feet of me. The man did not lie and not only can I had identify shorebirds in my area, I find them quite beautiful. I hear he's offering two workshops next year--I highly recommend them!

Carpenter banding is always fun, but this year when we had an adult sharp-shinned hawk try to get one of the juncos we had just trapped, was a big highlight--Hellziggy took the above photo. We ended getting the sharpie and banding it as well as the junco. This is not to be confused with a separate sharpie/junco incident that happened in December.

Having a young titmouse sit on my head while at Mr. Neil's was another highlight.

Speaking of Mr. Neil, I finally got vindication with a saw-whet owl. For years, I have insisted that one should be in his woods. I had found saw-whet feathers in wren nests, I had found poop, but never the saw-whet--until this year when I found the above bird sleeping in a pine. Whoot!

Birds were only part of this magical year. Beekeeping has opened my eyes to a whole new world, and words cannot express what it felt like to have a worker bee lick nectar off of my bare finger. From having a massive panic attack when installing the bees, to requeening problems, to even giving sex advice, to my first bee sting...this has been one weird year and I cannot wait to see what new adventures lay ahead of us in 2008.

And let's not forget the porcupet--the baby porcupine who was found on the side of the road next to his mother who had been hit by a car. He was being cared for by a friend of mine who is a professional wildlife rehabber. By the time he was in her care, he had already been imprinted on humans and could not go back to the wild. He is now living at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Mn and goes by the name Clover. His videos are still a sensation on YouTube.

Birding also got me a brush with coolness when the Colbert Report filmed a segment at an Eagle Festival in Connecticut.

And I can't talk about what an amazing year it has been without talking about Cinnamon and Disapproving Rabbits. That has been one wild ride to have a web page we put up for fun and have it turn into a book. To have signings and have people come from different states to meet my bunny is just overwhelming. When I looked over the blog in the last year and how it has morphed and changed, I noticed that Cinnamon has been featured less and less. I'm not sure why. At first, I thought it was my infatuation with beekeeping, a new subject to write about. Then we started a separate blog for Disapproving Rabbits so I wondered if I was keeping it separate. But, I also get some strange emails (greatly overshadowed by some really wonderful and funny ones) from fans. I wonder if the few odd/unpleasant ones are making me feel protective of my bunny's privacy and the fun times we have. Or is that she is getting older and I want to distance her to protect all from being too emotionally invested when the inevitable happens? Not sure, but we'll see what happens in the coming year.

Birds and Beers has been a real treat. Above is a photo from the first Bird Blogger Conference where many bird bloggers got to meet face to face for the first time. I'm hoping to expand Birds and Beers in 2008 where anyone who is remotely interested in birds from beginner to kinda interested to very interested to birding has taken over my life will get a chance to sit down, share a beverage and talk some birds.

And I would like to once again thank EVERYONE who reads the blog, leaves comments, sends emails, or spreads the word. I feel incredibly honored that people are interested in what I put on here and make it such a fun part of my day and my life. I've made some great new friends and connections and I love it when someone sends a note to tell me that they noticed some bird or activity that they never would have noticed before if they had not read the blog. We also did some good this year when readers from here did the "Click for Condors" and helped Ventana Wildlife Society win $10,000 in grant money. Not bad at all. Thank you very much, and here's hoping you have wonderful new year and share new adventures.

Thank you.