Reentry

Well, here we are… several weeks into the New Year!

(2017?!  what happened to 1996??  I clearly recall when that year seemed soooo far in the distant future.)

You haven’t heard from me in a while. I’ll admit, frankly, reentry back post-Mom’s Big Year life has been rough. Like coming off of a high. Last year was the best year of my life to date. So definitely tough to follow that. Many of you saw that glimmer in my eye as I always had another trip around the corner.

Since January 1st,  I’ve been playing catch up in just about every aspect of my life and am a bit overwhelmed… Dishes, laundry, work, friendships, carpools, teaching, etc etc…  catching up on everything except sleep. Adapting back to the way things were before the Big Year. These past few weeks have been a time for me to shift my attention back to matters at home and work. It’s truly been a joy to be back with the family!

Paul just suggested we take our Halloween decorations down. I guess it’s been a little busy. Lol!  So, as you can tell, I’m still playing catch up.. but could not wait another day to update you!

I owe you some very cool posts that cover the final push of MBY!  I head to Florida next week for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. I’m super excited to be leading trips for the festival again this year and to be presenting my first MBY talk! Check it out the festival website here:  Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival  And if you’re there, I’ll be at the Wildside Nature Tours booth, so please come by and say HI!

So, going back to start bringing you up to date…

The rest of my Texas trip in November was FANTASTIC!

We met up with friend, Scarlet Colley to take her magical pontoon boat trip for a shot at Wilson’s Plover.  Anyone who has been on Scarlet’s boat knows that ‘magical’ is the only way to describe it. Scarlet talks with her dolphin friends that surround the boat. When I asked her how close they get to the dolphins, she told me, “We feed them our joy…We touch them with our hearts… And we swim with them in our dreams.”

dscn6313
Scarlet and Nancy, post-Wilson’s Plover #493!
dscn6280
Scarlet and Gabriel

 

Here are the highlights of my last days in Texas in pictures:

 

dscn6407
Plain Chachalaca
dscn6406
Olive Sparrow
dscn6340
Gabriel Mapel and Gabriel Lugo= Gabriel squared! 🙂
dscn6334
Greater Roadrunner
dscn6267
Nancy at Sabal Palm Sanctuary
dscn6339
Always love running into Superstar birder, Gabriel Mapel and his dad, Daniel!
dscn6392
Groove-billed Ani at Salineno

My next trip held a big change in temps for me!

MBY headed NORTH!

Check back soon for the last of the MBY adventures. The last weeks were full of surprises and some were ‘beyond birds!’

xoxo, Nancy

 

 

Back in the nest

Well, momma bird is back in the nest!

There’s SO much to share from these last few weeks, I don’t even know where to begin. It’s been a whirlwind of travel, final exams, family, friends and holidays. BIG fun!

After an amazing trip to the Rio Grande Valley in November, I stepped up the birding again in mid-December to finish the year strong.  With the immeasurable help and support of family, colleagues, and friends at this crazy time of year, I felt so fortunate to squeeze in trips to Minnesota, Southern Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and an unplanned trip to my childhood home in New Jersey… all before the ball dropped. I closed out 2016 with some very exciting hits, some tough misses, and a rather exciting finish to Mom’s Big Year!

dscn6757
Sneak preview of my trip up north to Minnesota! Evening Grosbeak. Tick!

Now, I’m getting back to reality.. unpacking my suitcase and starting the laundry.  I just submitted semester grades this morning.. so, this month I’ll have more time to blog and recap on what I would consider to be the best year of my life so far! It was certainly a huge year of birds.. but as you all know, for me, it was much more than birds… It was a year chock-FULL of learning, growth, love, healing, travel, adventure, new friends, old friends and family.

I am grateful. I simply couldn’t ask for more.

Speaking of which…Here’s one of my favorite songs, by Sara Evans, I Could Not Ask for More. I’ve posted it before and I’m posting again as I love it so much. I sing it to my kids and hubby all the time. It really captures how I’m feeling right now about them, and you, and my entire support network for Mom’s Big Year.

“These are the moments
I know heaven must exist
And these are the moments
I know all I need is this
I’ve found all I’ve waited for, yeah
And I could not ask for more
I could not ask for more than this time together
I could not ask for more than this time with you
And every prayer has been answered
Every dream I’ve had’s come true
Yeah, right here in this moment
Is right where I’m meant to be
Here with you here with me”

Click on the link below for the youtube video:

Sara Evans, I Could Not Ask for More

I am so happy that you’re a part of my Big Year. And I cannot WAIT to share more with you!

But for now, it’s back to mom duties today.

I must head to the grocery store now, or we’ll be eating candy canes off the tree for dinner…

Though, I’m sure the kids wouldn’t mind… right?. 😉

More soon, xoxo,

Nancy

img_6836

Next trip?

Hi everyone!

These last few weeks I’ve been doing the mom/work thing.. This week alone has been filled with band/orchestra concerts (5 concerts in 7 nights!!!!!), basketball games, Girl & Boy Scout meetings, holiday parties, the usual grocery shopping/meal planning, school projects etc etc.

img_4906
Taking a break from work and birding to celebrate the holidays with dear friends!

img_4870

Because of all the crazy busy days and nights- I owe you blog posts from the second half of my fabulous foray through Texas and my success in ticking Short-eared Owl (#499!) a couple weeks ago here in Maryland. More on those soon…  Perhaps I’ll get to write them after I send out LAST year’s Christmas cards I never sent. Lol!

All in a Mom’s Big Year, right?! 🙂

This weekend we had a dusting of snow….our first of the year!  After church, Sunday, I headed over to Maryland’s Eastern shore to see if I could tick #500.

Spend almost 3 hours of driving and 3 hours searching for a reliable Northern Shrike.. but missed it.. It was nowhere to be found!  Rats! Thanks to John and Meg Harris from the Howard County Bird Club for making the trek with me!

Now I sit in the airport for my final planned trip for Mom’s Big Year!

Took a moment to look up from my laptop and this is my view.  It’s a beaUUUtiful start to what I’m CERTAIN will be an INCREDIBLE trip!

IMG_4974.JPG

Can you guess where I’m heading?

Hint: I just bought some extra thermals yesterday!

 

 

Finer than frog hair!

Wednesday, 11/2/2016

Well, it’s been an AMAZING few days in the Rio Grande Valley and I still have a few more days of hard-core birding left!

I am beyond thrilled with the birds I’ve ticked here so far. I have my “Texas A-team” with me and the plan is to leave No. Bird. Unseen.  And with this crew, we’re actually gonna make that happen!

dscn6203
Mom’s Big Year – Team Texas:  Gabriel, David and Martin… Day 1 – Salineno
img_3300
Seedeater hunting- Nancy, Martin, David and Gabriel

Meet Team Texas:

  • Gabriel Lugo– fellow Wildside Nature Tours guide, came ALL the way from Puerto Rico, just to lend a hand. NO bird slips by Gabriel.. that’s for SURE. Gabriel chauffeured the team the entire week for hours on end..from Amazon Kingfisher to Aplomado Falcon to Northern Jacana and back, several times!
  • David Stekoll–  Uncle David has joined me once again to ‘tear up’ Texas for Mom’s Big Year. I’m SO super thankful to have another serious birder in the family!  He’s the BEST!  And fortunately, he’s still talking to this Yankee after driving across Texas for Mom’s Big Year(Austin to Big Bend and back) with me for 7 days in May. Lol!  We got 86 birds on that trip… It was EPIC!
  • Martin Hagne– reigns from the Texas Hill Country and has been an indispensable part of several Mom’s Big Year adventures.  He knows the ‘ins and outs’ of Texas birding and birds – especially the entire Rio Grande Valley- like the palm of his hand! Martin joined the Mom’s Big Year – Arizona edition in August and has so kindly spent hours helping to plan the Mom’s Big Year itinerary.
img_3346
Nancy, Martin & Gabriel (taking the pic) setting the game plan for Wednesday

And very special thanks to Greg Miller this week -and beyond- for his constant support, guidance and for serving as a major resource to me throughout the entire year.  I certainly could not have done it all without him. Mom’s Big Year was actually his idea! A shout out to Raymond VanBuskirk for his updates on some local targets this week and to Rich Kostecke for re-finding the Amazon Kingfisher on Tuesday while we were there!

dscn6265
Post Northern Jacana SMILES!

Our first day here we drove the 3.5 hours to Laredo to test our luck. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a shot at the Amazon Kingfisher!  And…. WE GOT IT!

dscn6224
Martin, David, Rich & Nancy a minute after seeing the Amazon Kingfisher- MEGACHECK!  Thank you, Rich!

This is only the 3rd time EVER that this bird has been seen in the US… so it’s considered a MEGA-rarity in ‘birding speak’.

amazon-kf
The star of the week-  Amazon Kingfisher.  Photo courtesy of Mary Gustafson

As if things couldn’t get any better, in just two days, I’ve added several new birds to my year list, including Sprague’s Pipit and Northern Jacana.

dscn6229
Birding Estero Llana Grande (my FAVE spot in the Valley) for Vesper Sparrow and Groove-billed Ani- target birds

After lunch today, I was walking out of ‘Fat Daddy’s’ roadside restaurant near Estero Llana Grande and a frail-looking old-timer in a cowboy hat said a polite and chipper “Hello! How are you?!” as I exited. Basking in the successes of the day so far I responded, “FANTASTIC, how are you?!”

He enthusiastically replied, as only a Texan could,

“I’m finer than frog hair!”

img_3471

Well, the way this week has been going so far…That makes TWO of us!

Down to business…

 

Just arrived in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas today after a fantastic and VERY fruitful trip to San Diego.

I spent three full days birding, including a pelagic trip out of Mission Bay.  Southern California exceeded my expectations for sure! I ticked 46 new species and brought my total to 475 for Mom’s Big Year!

dscn6109
SoCal Pelagic!
dscn6146
Burrowing owl
dscn6077
Olaf and Nancy- Big Year fusion!
dscn6153
Point Loma

 

Very special thanks to Steve Ritt for providing me an unbelievable amount of help and expertise to make this such an ‘over-the-top’ successful trip! And thanks to Paul Lehman for meeting up and for providing additional useful info regarding my target birds.

Stay tuned!!

I’ve got the 500 mark on the horizon.

Look out Texas!

I’m here…

and I’m READY!

xoxo, Nancy

Switching Gears

You may recall that I headed to Cape May on my last MBY trip  just over a month ago.  I’ve been doing the mom/work thing big time ever since. I took a break in the action to chase a Vesper’s Sparrow a few times and to bird our local landfill.  Before I switch gears back into full-time birding mode, I thought I’d share a few pics that give you a glimpse of the “mom/work” side of Mom’s Big Year from these last few weeks.

Just landed in San Diego Friday! Three full days of birding ahead including a pelagic! Then it’s down to the Rio Grande Valley of TX for a boatload of birding, friends and hopefully BIRDS!

Stay tuned,

Nancy

Ready or not…

50948-ships-in-harbor-are-safe-quote-1

I’m trying this again. Last weekend’s pelagic is rescheduled for tonight and the conditions have all the makings of a great trip!

I’m heading to Cape May this morning, even though the simple thought of it makes my palms sweat, my heart race, and the hair on the back of my neck raise up. This week my driving anxiety ebbed and flowed… Some days much less comfortable than I expected after such great success last weekend.

That said, I’m still riding the wave and I’ve decided to try a route today that takes me over my biggest challenge yet on the Big Year bucket list-

the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

My carrot?

I need to add Piping Plover and pelagic birds to my year list.

And I’m determined to drive myself right over that stinkin’ bridge to get them.

The caveat?

I’m scared to death. 

Good thoughts welcome! ❤