Whew 2020, what felt like the longest year in history is finally coming to a close. What a year it’s been!
Winter is upon us here in the northern hemisphere and we will soon shut the book on one of the most unforgettable and possibly one of the most difficult years many of us have experienced in our lifetime.
December is usually a special month for me. It’s my Birthday month and this year was a quiet one spent outdoors on a sunny day with the birds at my favorite refuge. Later on I had an amazing takeout dinner at my neighborhood Thai place. It's the little things.
For years at Christmas, friends and I have gathered for a potluck after a day spent together at a local café and catching a film at the cinema. Christmas will be very different this year. Gathering for an indoor potluck is not an option; neither is sharing coffee and a table at our usual café or catching a Christmas day movie! This year we found safer ways to celebrate.
As I type this some of the first front line health care workers are receiving vaccines against Covid-19 and we have a new President taking office in January. Already there are big changes for 2021 and it hasn’t even started yet.
December is also a time that I consult my day planner (Yes I happily still use a paper planner) jotting down the events of the last 365 days in my journal. It’s a practice that my friend Jenna taught me. It’s a way for me to reflect, express gratitude and acknowledge closure for the year. It's amazing to look back on the year and be reminded of what I had forgotten.
Initially I thought my coping mechanism for 2020 would be to lose myself in books. I didn’t read as many books as I thought I would but I did write quite a bit, inspired to document my thoughts and experiences.
Summer was spent outdoors backyard gardening, birding and social distancing with friends. I didn’t practice much yoga but I did walk the neighborhood a lot, marveling at new to me things. I didn’t attend my first major Birding Festival in Ohio that I had tickets for but I did learn about slime molds, small but mighty Falcons that show up frequently in my neighborhood called Merlin's and the barriers of birding while black and birding with mobility and or other challenges.
I didn’t work much but I did become a volunteer park steward at my neighborhood park, spending hours removing Blackberry bushes and planting native plants, grasses and shrubs for our local wildlife.
I had some fun bird encounters this year in the form of a sighting of my first banded Turkey Vulture and a "Lifer" Wrentit both while camping on the Oregon coast. Close to home a Common Raven called outside my building for the first time and for two days a Pacific Wren made several never before appearances earning spot #51 on my yard bird list. Then there was the irruption of Pine Siskins taking over my feeder. But the highlight had to be a Snowy Owl, a rare visitor in urban Seattle. It only took me two buses in the rain to get there, well worth the trek to see this beauty! This was definitely the most viewed bird in town this year. Small groups gathered masked, to see the Owl that moved around the various roof tops. The bird was so popular it even made it into the Seattle Times and although my photo appears close, I was several hundred feet away photographing through a scope and practicing ethical Owl photography.
So for everything I didn’t do this year there are things I did. Most importantly I made it through the year and to me that’s an accomplishment all on its own.
I hope you have navigated 2020 to the best of your ability and have been marveling at the birds and nature wherever you are. I wish you a happy, healthy and nature filled new year! I look forward to resuming urban bird outings and birding with you in person when we are able. As bird outings resume I will be posting the information here and on my Instagram page. So please check back frequently. Until then I hope you remain healthy and in good spirits.
Happy Birding, Roniq Bartanen
Snowy Owl on an rooftop in urban Seattle. November 18th 2020. Photo by Roniq Bartanen
Here you will find a list of fun upcoming bird related events and activities to join.
Birders and those that are bird curious at any level are always welcome! My bird outings are inclusive of all gender pronouns, sexual orientations, races, cultures, ethnicity, ages and socioeconomic status.
As a Birdability Captain, I also support accessible birding which helps to remove barriers to birding and the outdoors for those with mobility and or other challenges. Bird outings that are accessible will be noted as such in the description.
Please follow your states or countries Covid-19 guidelines when birding. If you are able to, enjoy birding safely on your own or mask up and social distance with birding pals.
As always when birding follow the American Birding Associations Code of Birding Ethics.
Providing a healthy, bird friendly and safe environment for birds enables you to observe them from a distance which increases overall health providing a mindful and enjoyable experience. This is especially true in a year when so many of us spent a lot of time close to home and possibly became "new" to birds and birding. With that enjoyment comes responsibility. It's important to do all we can to keep an eye out for sick birds visiting our feeders or yard and to make sure and do all we can to maintain their health.
If you have a bird feeder this is a great article on keeping it clean to maintain the health of birds. Birds can use all the help we can give them. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/how-to-clean-your-bird-feeder/
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