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!
We had a super holiday weekend playing, playing, playing on the water in Southern Maryland and reconnecting with dear family. We took time to share memories of my father, who passed away on Labor Day in 2002. My dad loved water sports (sailing, boating, waterskiing), so all of the super fun times on the water this weekend were a great way to remember him!
Then, Tuesday, it was ‘off to the races’ as it was the first week where my banding lab job overlapped with my university teaching job as well as the school year for my three kiddos. Believe it or not, all went great! So far so good!
I’m beyond grateful to my mentor, Danny Bystrak, for tapping me for the banding lab position.
And we had a Connecticut Warbler while banding this morning!
Now that everything’s hitting me at once..I went from ‘smooth sailing’ to ‘rough seas’ in less than 24 hours. I’m feeling the heat with all the things I need to get done before I even think about packing for a trip to Cape May this weekend. Everything I said I’d do for friends, school, work, the kiddos and hubby… all needed to be done..like yesterday. And, oh yes. .I’m thinking creatively as I start to pack for Saturday’s Pelagic trip where I’ll be sleeping on the top deck of a boat to wake in the morning out at sea amongst the seabirds (new ones for Mom’s Big Year!). Yup.. all that packing/planning still needs to happen too!
Cape May is at the top of my list when it comes to Mom’s Big Year destinations. It’s such a very special and sentimental place to me. But the thought of driving to Cape May and over the Delaware Memorial bridge stops all my happy thoughts right in their tracks and my hands are now breaking out into a cold sweat because of this.
In the flurry of it all, I talked with my mom on the phone, looking for some consoling words as I explained the crazy nature of this week and the drive ahead of me on Saturday. She reminded me of something my dad always said…
“Just take it from where you’re at…”
Well, I started my day today at the banding lab with this…
and ended the day in my yard with this…
So, if I “take it from where I’m at”..
…”where I’m at” doesn’t seem like such a bad place to be 🙂
I’m back from Southeastern Arizona and my head is spinning. I’ve been so busy playing catch-up, I have not yet had the time to digest the depth of this incredible trip. The desert…the night sky….the canyons….the birds….the scenery… the fun times with friends…. Continue reading →
I’m two weeks into the new job and there’s so much running through my weary head, I’m honestly having trouble choosing just one tidbit for this post.
It’s been a fulfilling and busy time couple of weeks. I’m grateful for my family and friends who are making this journey a lot less bumpy for me. A shout out to dear friends, Jill, Susan and Jenny for taking such fabulous care of my kids on short notice during my first days at work. And extra special thanks to my mom for coming to help us navigate my entire first week of work. I found this card to send to her as a thank you and she loved it!
Many of you already know that Mom’s Big Year has become bigger than I ever expected in more ways than I ever expected. But, I’d have to say that this week takes the cake. My Big Year just grew exponentially in some completely new directions.
Big announcement here!
Tomorrow I start a brand. new. job! I’ve been tapped to serve as a biologist for the North America Bird Banding Laboratory at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. Wow! Not just one, but two jobs literally fell out of the sky into my lap this year. You can probably guess that they were not part of the Big Year plans. But both jobs were too good to pass up. So, Mom’s Big Year is still going strong (and I’m still committed to traveling as much as possible and seeing as many birds as possible before the clock strikes midnight on Dec 31…) with just a few new twists along the way. I’ll still be teaching at University of Maryland in the fall and will be working 3 days at the banding lab and two days at UMBC.
I’m super excited about starting at the lab tomorrow! I’ll be working with several of my mentors in the field of avian research and I know I’m going to learn a TON. I’m ready for that. I am thrilled, honored, and humbled to be working at a place with such a rich history in wildlife research. You can read more Patuxent’s history here. Read more Did you know that Rachel Carson used Patuxent’s research to develop almost all of the content of her revolutionary book, Silent Spring?
Wow. Just wow.
I’ve been an at-home mom since I left my career as a science teacher and biologist 16 years ago. So, as you can imagine, this is a huge change for my family and me. This week, as I prepare the household for my completely new schedule, I’ve TOTALLY been ‘nesting’. (How appropriate!) I’ve lost count of the number of trips I’ve taken to the store. I’ve been grocery shopping, back-to-school shopping, cleaning, cooking, freezing make-ahead meals and trying to spend as much time as possible with the hubby and kiddos. I’ve stocked up on so many staples, you’d think a blizzard was on its way to central Maryland!
I’m not sure anything can prepare you for a change like this.. But I wasn’t going to take any chances and bought plenty of chocolate to help me wade through any unanticipated stress. However, I’m not sure how long the chocolate will last around this house as the kids have found all my hiding places!!
But my family can certainly rest assured…
I’ve bought enough toilet paper to last us through March. 🙂
This past week may have been Spring Break for the professor in me, but it was far from a break for the birder in me! It was ‘catch-up’ time….ticking birds for Mom’s Big Year! Fun!
My plans to get ahead on several weeks of class lecture prep went out the window, with local sightings of harlequin ducks and other fun birds posted Monday. There were several winter birds still out there on the coast of Maryland that I needed, so I sent a quick email out. Shortly after I sent it, I had several very kind offers from local birder buddies to get out in the field with me all over the state this week! Fun!
I’m still recovering… and soon you’ll know why..
Last Wed 1:11 am-bedtime…
followed by a 4:14 am wake-up for a trip to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to chase winter waterfowl for the day.
I’ve got a whole lot to tell about some really fun birds, including a long-tailed duck and gannets!
Every night I sit at my laptop to write you all about it….. BUT I fall asleep… 🙂
Tonight as I tried to squeeze in the last moments of daylight… I was outside pruning the bushes(despite being completely overtired) and accidentally clipped a string of Christmas lights still hanging. Yes, you heard me, Christmas lights.. you can laugh now.. as the wreath is still up too! (So, perhaps it’s not TOO late for me to send out those holiday cards after all. LOL!)
Well, now it’s time to play ‘catch up’. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity with my trip to Florida, a BIG snowstorm here in the northeast and the start to the spring semester for my new environmental science class. All fun for me!
Florida was fabulous! The Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival was a hit on SO many levels! I had a great time working with Wildside Nature Tours to bring incredible birds together with equally amazing people! I led 5 straight days of field trips for the festival and truly had a blast! Each trip and its guides and participants were unique. Everyone was engaged and made it such a rewarding time for me. It’s always so much fun reconnecting and leading trips with old friends and colleagues and meeting lots of new friends too!
Here are some highlights:
My flight home was cancelled on Sunday due to “Snowzilla”. We had 30″ of snow blanket our home in Maryland! As I was fretting and wringing my hands about my cancelled flight and the possibility that I might actually MISS my FIRST class of the spring semester/my new job (eeek!)… Skye, seabird counter extraordinaire, looked me square in the eyes and with his jovial smile said one word to me.
That’s all I had to hear to give my attitude the 180 degree turn it needed. Cancelled flights yield more time for birding… and more birding I did! I took the extra time and thanks to fellow Wildside guide, Steve, had the great fortune of seeing a bird that I’ve been dreaming about seeing since I was 5 years old…. a male painted bunting!
The first couple weeks of teaching my new class have been fabulous. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how incredibly motivated my UMBC students are!
This week on my day off, after getting the lunches packed and the kids off to school, I took a deep breath and realized it was the first day the house was quiet since my trip and after the kids had been home for 10 days straight due to the weather. It was a warm morning. The snow was covered by a thick blanket of fog as it started into a steady rain.. It was the PERFECT day to pull the covers back over my head and go straight to sleep again. And that I did.
By about 9:15 am I reached for my phone to check email as I was pondering all the things on the ‘to-do list’ that had been pushed aside in the whirlwind of activity these past few weeks. The mile-long list (including the unsent holiday cards!) made me pull the covers even higher over my head as I entertained the idea of another hour or two of sleep in my warm, cozy bed.. With the quiet in the house after all the hustle and bustle, some extra zzz’s were just way too tempting for this overtired mom.
A fellow local bird club member had just sent an email reporting 12 + Pine Siskins at his feeder. Knowing it was a bird I needed to see for the year and one that only came to feeders on occasion and could be missed…. I literally kicked my feet straight up in the air, covers flying off the bed and shot straight up. Fifteen minutes later, I arrived at his house and got the bird.
There was only ONE thing on this planet that could get me out of that bed that morning.
I just landed in sunny Florida for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival! Special thanks to Kevin Loughlin and Wildside Nature Tours for bringing me down to lead field trips here for the next 5 days! So much FUN! I can’t wait!
Looking forward to seeing some great birds and meeting and reconnecting with lots of fun and exciting people on this first out-of-state trip for my ‘Mom’s Big Year’!
I bought this stone last spring, just after the Mom’s Big Year seed had been planted during a fun and inspiring conversation with Greg Miller*. I had time on my hands at that point.. enough time to pick this stone up and put it down 7 times before I finally decided to treat myself and buy it. Since then, my ‘Imagine’ stone has fueled dreams of flying off to far away and exciting places all over the country to see rare birds and equally exciting people.
I no longer have the luxury of extra time, as this week I begin prep for my first big trip of Mom’s Big Year. Now everything is kicking into gear.