Sunday, January 04, 2009

Counting The Birds

For the second year now, I was privileged to participate in the Concord Circle of the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. It's an exhilirating experience and I wish I had gotten involved a long time ago.

Teams assigned by our area leader Steve Morse embarked from the Sunlite Cafe on Rte. 117 into the cold clear morning around 7:30am, and the winds initially made our treks over open frozen areas in the Gardner Hill area of Stow a bit challenging. But the sun warmed us as the morning aged, and my partner, Wendy Miller, and I were pleased to identify 25 species in total, including a Sharp-Shinned Hawk.

For three and a half hours, we diligently scoured every inch of our assigned territory, and in addition to the thrill of finding a respectable cache of species, the experience heightens one's senses and clears one's mind. Every ounce of our attention was intently focused on hearing or espying the sought-after avian residents, regardless of whether they might be hiding or just waiting to be discovered in plain view.

It's a wonderful exercise to sharpen one's intuitive senses, too. Sometimes, birds are found simply because a team member has a hunch to look up a particular tree, or over her shoulder, or into a certain hedge of brambles.

I can't think of a better way for an animal communicator--or anyone who wants to feel a closer bond with the creatures of the natural world--to have spent a glorious winter Sunday morning.

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