Red-bellied Woodpecker and Carolina Wren
Canada Geese in field where lark was
Spoiler Alert: these will be the suckiest Christmas Bird Count (now in its 122nd year) photos you will see, so look no further if you’re used to viewing the gorgeous eye-candy photos from other photographers. But the purpose of the Christmas Bird Count is to count every bird and have fun, and fun I had, even if the weather was rainy, gray and cold. I participated on Sunday in the Greater Concord, MA Christmas Bird Count (which includes sections of a number of towns) and had a territory with diverse habitat, including wetlands and fields. I brought my Nikon P950 point-and-shoot superzoom camera which is no DSLR, but the superzoom of 2000mm allows record shots. What I loved best is that every bird counts, whether rare or common, something to be celebrated when often birding’s emphasis is on rarities (which I do love seeing!). During 24 hours, by car and on foot, every species, with numbers seen, is recorded. In the early, dark morning I managed to get a photo of the special Horned Larks in the big field with geese. It was raining, I was soaked, standing in the mud with my fingers numb, and loved every second of it. Isn’t that what life is about, feeling alive and loving every second of it? Later, during mid-day, it stopped raining and I worked hard in an area where diverse habitats come together and I saw the most birds, scanning, trying for photos, recording, and just feeling a sense of exhilaration to be immersed with birds in the experience. Nothing else mattered and I truly was “in the moment.” I miraculously managed to get both Red-bellied Woodpecker and Carolina Wren in the same photo. In a water area later, the beautiful male Hooded Merganser swam away from me, his white flag erect like the head of an arrow piercing a pattern in the still, deep, dark water. At the end of the day, participants turn in their numbers to compilers. Last night was the countdown zoom, where you hear about all that was seen. I am always so impressed by the skill and effort put in by so many participants, plus a sense of birding community on this special day. Over 31,000 individual birds were counted, of about 90 give or take species (some numbers are still being confirmed). Life is about the gift of every moment and birds are a big present.