2013: Naturalist Goals Review

Photo of White-winged Dove

In today's post, I'll reflect on the goals that I articulated a year ago and discuss some of the lessons I learned in 2013...

...Bird my local patches to observe the yearly changes in bird distribution and behavior and get to know the local birds in greater depth.

As in 2012, this year featured plenty of birding.  My identification skills continue to improve, and there remains no chance of my learning all there is to know about the behavior of even the most common species.

...Develop my bird finding skills, by seeking out thus-far-elusive species, including American Bittern, Sora, White-eyed Vireo, and Wilson's Warbler.

Well, I heard an American Bittern.  The other three species proved elusive.  I did manage to find 14 Life Birds, including an unlikely American White Pelican who dropped in on Sharon, MA, three gulls species (Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed, and Glaucous), and just last week, on Christmas Day, a most unlikely White-winged Dove in Biddeford Pool (pictured above).

...Track mammals and birds in the snow, with special attention placed on locating signs of Gray Fox, Ermine, and Ruffed Grouse.

I did some tracking but had no luck finding signs of the target animals.  I could credit this to the lack of snow during the beginning of 2013, but I'm not sure more snow would have helped.  In fact, I went another year without even hearing a grouse drum, though I did find one dead near Route 1 in Plainville.

...Learn [most] all of the local Shrubs and put together a Shrub Finder to compliment my Plainville Tree Finder. [These two finders have since been taken down.]

I'd wager that I can now recognize all of the common shrubs of Plainville.  This year I'll expand my knowledge to include any additional shrubs specific to southern Maine.

...Similarly, identify [most] all of the local Ferns and produce a Fern Finder.

Done. [This finder was also taken down.] Though I've yet to locate and learn many of the less-common ferns, I can sort out the most abundant ones.  And, I even led a fern walk in Wrentham.

...Spend time tracking down unfamiliar (to me) Insects, including showy Butterflies, night-flying Moths, crawling Caterpillars, and buzzing Bugs.

This summer I got to know many butterflies by sight and found countless non-butterfly insects in the process.  I even identified a couple dozen nighttime moths -- if I do this every year from now on, I should have all the North American moths identified by the year 2443.

...Gather, process, and eat Acorns (and other wild foods).

Acorns?  Not this year.  Other wild foods?  Yes!  Especially buckets and buckets of wild fruit that I continue to enjoy (from my freezer).  Moving to Maine during acorn dropping season was part of the issue, but this year's crop was also a light one for the Oaks near me.  Better luck in 2014.

...Remain open to whatever lessons life presents me with.

Easy to say, but not always easy to do.  On many occasions, I wandered without an agenda -- open to the gifts of the day, content with observing whoever was there, and feeling the sun on my face and the wind on my skin.

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