When I set out my 2016 Naturalist Goals at the start of the year, I hadn't anticipated that I'd commit to a Maine Birding Big Year (more on this next week). As a result, some of my goals shifted.
On a daily basis, I planned to start most days with an early morning walk, and while I enjoyed many dawn walks during the first half of 2016, this practice faded with the arrival of summer. Wild food (especially non-fruits) was an area I thought I'd give more attention to this year, and while foraging played a role in my year (and I taught several foraging workshops), my foraging efforts were limited. My third stated daily practice was to observe birds, plants and mushrooms at local patches. Unfortunately, it was a poor year locally for many mushroom species, due to the very dry conditions, but I did track birds and plants with regularity, as my weekly nature notes attest.
I had more success with meeting my monthly goals. I conducted regular bird surveys at Emmons Preserve (with the exception of October); I ate shellfish in various forms (including locally gathered Common Periwinkles and Atlantic Dogwinkles, and purchased Blue Mussels, clams and oysters); I visited the Sanford Lagoons nearly every other week, and the Saco Heath less often; and I visited local beaches regularly, not just for birding, but also to swim (including several white season plunges), walk, and moon watch.
My last set of goals were for the year as a whole. I aimed to:
- Track down a few Life Birds
Done! I observed a whopping 37 Life Birds in 2016 (31 in ME, 3 in Canadian waters, 2 in NH, and 1 in MA).
- Photograph some of the 17 bird species who I've seen but not yet photographed
Done! Only 5 species remain: Dovekie, Purple Gallinule, Tundra Swan, Prothonotary Warbler, and Northern Bobwhite.
- Complete at least 3 Moon Challenges
- Go camping and visit friends in western and central Maine
Done! I camped near Bangor and Bar Harbor, stayed one night at Aroostook State Park, and visited friends in central Maine and a friend in western Maine.
- Hike a mountain in Maine
Done! In fact I hiked several, including Little Jackson, East Royce, and Saddleback.
- Work with individuals or small groups looking to deepen their awareness of the natural world
Done! I had the pleasure of leading 20+ nature walks (many focusing on foraging or birding) for interested individuals and several organizations, including the Acadia Birding Festival, the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, the Wells Public Library, and the Maine Primitive Gathering.
In 2016, as in the year before, I divided my time between local learning and various mini-excursions throughout Maine, and all the while, my naturalist goals served to focus my efforts. Each goal was either met or consciously set aside to allow room for the inevitable unforeseen circumstances that made up my year.
Thank you for supporting my work. I hope you'll stick with me for the next round of adventures coming in 2017!
Lastly, I challenge you to select at least one nature-connection goal for the coming year, whether it be something you aim to do daily, weekly, monthly, or at some point during 2017. Please share your goal(s) with other readers in the comments below.