NatureLog - My Nature & Nature Travel Blog
Animals Through My Traveling Lens
Are you paying attention to who has left and who is arriving in your yard? It may be subtle at first – the numbers diminish little by little. But soon, you’ll realize that you may not have seen a particular species in the backyard for some time. It’s funny – I often find myself a little sad when I don’t see my usual ‘friends’ in the backyard. Then I’ll stop, visualize them on a safe journey north or south, and return to a place of gratitude. Gratitude that:
1 - they spent the winter or summer in our backyard, and
2 - friends from last year – and maybe some new friends – will be arriving soon.
In fact, just the other day, I looked out just in time to catch a glimpse of the gorgeous copper of a Rufous Hummingbird enjoying the red salvia in the garden! It was a first for me and I was thrilled. These little surprises can bring joy into our lives when we make the space for it.
Another surprise encounter in the last week: a Nuttall’s Woodpecker visiting our mealworm suet. I hear and see Nuttalls regularly in our neighborhood while walking the dogs. But never in our backyard. Surprisingly, he clamored through a potato plant to watch the feeder and fight briefly with another bird for a spot at it. This time of year, birds are pairing up, hormones are racing, and little ones need to be fed, so it’s often now that we witness such odd behaviors.
Over the last two years, we also suddenly started having Orange-crowned Warbler visitors. I was delighted to catch a glimpse of one over our Cuphea, then saw it return, make its way through another cuphea plant and before I knew it, fought with the other birds over the mealworm suet. This year, it even dared to take on the hummingbirds, visiting the hummingbird feeder on our patio! I thought I was seeing things. Indeed, another one of this year’s surprises!
Of course, this is a larger metaphor for taking stock of all of the nice surprises and messages in our lives. What magical moment did you have today? How about one that sparked a new idea at some recent point in your life? Maybe you could sit down right now as you read this and think about your last 24 hours. Your last week. Your last month. Just start there – maybe it’s only 2 to 3 things that you recall. That’s ok. Build muscle memory to do this on a daily basis and before you know it, you’ve started your own gratitude journal. In your head or on paper, gratitude is a catalyst for so many good things in life.
"What magical moment did you have today?"
So go ahead. Take stock. Open yourself up to the magic. Maybe it’s that new butterfly who just arrived. Or a new boss who suddenly cares about you and your career. It can literally be anything - from any part of your life. Wherever and whenever, cherish it and build upon it……and let the magic begin!
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eThis time of year is so exciting to me. Many winter migrants have arrived and I’m always eager to set out early mornings to see who has arrived overnight or over the last week. Do you know which birds come through your own area this time of year? If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you will see birds who have flown south to warmer climates. They are either stopping through or staying through the winter. The benefit of stepping out or looking out of your window for these birds is multi-fold. Realizing there is a whole ecosystem of life outside our own helps draw us into the present moment – dissolving our troubling or stressful thoughts.
The birds that you see have risked their lives, skipped many meals, flown many hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, to arrive. Spending your morning with a loved one, exploring – either through the window or at a local park – is a nice way to enjoy your day. My mother regularly peeks out her window and shows her great-grandchildren the many birds that come through. She’s thrilled that her great-granddaughter, Alaina, proudly ensures other people know about the birds she encounters now, too. What a blessing - a gift - to a young child who to be introduced to and to enjoy the wonders of nature.
I love being a traveling birdwatcher but I still avidly watch my own yard every day. There, this winter, I’ve discovered at least 2 new species I’ve not seen here before. We’ve lived in the same house over 10 years, so seeing new bird was amazing! It’s likely due to a slight change in habitat these new species seek. Our garden has more growth from new low shrubs and purple sage this year and a clearing from trees that we had to cut down due to disease. We’ve seen Golden-crowned Sparrows and Orange-crowned Warblers, the latter of which I never even knew existed.
I’ve also been heading out along the San Francisco Bay’s many parks and to Monterey Bay, never disappointed. Right now on San Francisco Bay, we’re seeing Northern Shovelers, Gadwalls, Green-winged Teals, Blue-winged Teals, Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Ducks, and the latest arrivals, Lesser Scaup. The irony: I’ve seen SO MANY Northern Shovelers over the years at Palo Alto Baylands that I almost ignore them now. But this year, as they took to the skies or rose up on their haunches, I discovered even more colors on their plumage. They are even more captivating when their wings are open! Now my new obsession: being in the right spot, in the right light, at the right time, and the right angle with their back towards me, to catch this same beauty aflight. So far, only blurry pictures.... Luckily, I have the whole winter to keep trying! ;-)
Where will you go this winter to explore? Whether you are a traveling birdwatcher or stick close to home, will you take your grandkids, your sons and daughters, your husband or wife, your mother or father, your best friend and go explore? As John Muir once said....
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
Pamela, Eyes4Nature's proprietor, enjoying life out in the field among the animals and the peacefulness of nature.