1. I had a delightful time bird watching last weekend for the Great Backyard Bird Count! This was the first time I really participated in a widespread birding activity, so I feel like I’ve now ~officially~ achieved #birdnerd status – because, clearly, having a bird identifying app (Merlin) and the eBird app on my phone for easy bird watching checklist creation wasn’t enough to get me there *insert geek emoji here*
I’ve made a point to keep an eye out for birds in my neighborhood on my morning and evening commutes since the beginning of February, so I was pretty sure I had a good idea of what I’d encounter. I figured I’d see a lot of House Sparrows, probably some European Starlings, maybe some American Robins if they were feeling cooperative, and, if I was really lucky, my local Northern Cardinal friend. (It is perhaps worth noting that my friendship with said cardinal is probably a one-way affair, but I do say hello to him every time I see him, because apparently that’s the life I live these days.)
Boy was I wrong! I took an extended route home, swinging by a park where I’ve had good bird watching luck in the past. There was a guy flying his drone in the area where I usually see the best birds, so I figured there wouldn’t be any birds in the area and started to head home. As I approached the edge of the park, I heard quite the ruckus, and just about lost my mind when I saw TWO WOODPECKERS on a tree immediately outside the park.
I stood there like a crazy person for at least 15 minutes, taking pictures of the birds like my life depended on it while other unsuspecting pedestrians thought who knows what of me. Further review of my pictures shows that both the woodpeckers were male, so I think they must’ve been fighting over territory or something, because they kept chasing each other up and down the tree, and one had his tail splayed out like he was not particularly pleased with the other one. (Though to be fair, I know nothing about woodpecker behavior, so I could be totally off on my analysis here.)
While all of this was going on, I continued to hear another bird that sounded to be directly above me. I was sure it wasn’t either of the two birds I could see, since the sound was coming from the wrong direction, but I couldn’t find that other bird for the life of me. If you can accurately identify a bird’s call, you’re allowed to log it on your checklist on eBird, so I pulled up Merlin to listen to a Downy Woodpecker call (since I was pretty sure the woodpeckers on the tree were Downys, but I’m not very confident in my Downy vs. Hairy Woodpecker identification skills. They did seem too small to be Hairy Woodpeckers, though.). I had to turn the sound way up to hear it, since I was outside, and oh my gosh you guys, THE BIRD AT THE TOP OF THE TREE CALLED BACK. I could NOT believe it. What a way to start the Great Backyard Bird Count!
I went out for a real birding walk on Saturday and had almost instant success. A mere block from my house, I encountered a chickadee, another woodpecker, AND a House Finch all on the same tree. I was, once again, beside myself. Where had all these birds come from?! I keep an eye out for them every day and never see anything like this! Did they all know it was bird counting weekend and wanted to make sure they were noticed??
The rest of Saturday’s walk was fairly uneventful in the birding department. I did, however, get this picture of a male House Sparrow, which, oddly enough, is now officially my favorite bird picture that I’ve taken. I’m not all that fond of House Sparrows, but what do you know: even plain, common birds can make for good photos, apparently.
I decided to keep an eye out for birds on my way home from the gym on Sunday, and had just about given up when I thought I saw a cardinal on the other side of the street. I crossed to confirm, but the bird flew away by the time I got there. I decided to dawdle in the area for a few moments, and in the process encountered a GOLDFINCH, only the second confirmed goldfinch I had EVER seen in the entire City of Chicago, and on Great Backyard Bird Count weekend no less! I just could NOT believe my luck!
It was a very delightful birding weekend 🙂
2. I have the freedom and flexibility to work from home once a week if I so choose, but I rarely take advantage of that opportunity. My reasons for preferring to work in the office range from pathetic (my laptop is heavy and I don’t like carrying it around) to reasonable (I can plug into monitors at my desk at work, and that extra screen space makes a big difference), but since I do very much prefer to work in the office, that’s my regular process. On Tuesday, however, I decided to work from home just because (previously I’ve worked from home due to impending snowstorms or while under the weather), and WOW. What a difference!
I obviously enjoyed the flexibility to sleep in until 10 minutes before I needed to be “at work,” but just being at home, period, was what made the real difference. Remember how last week I complained about having all of these things to take care of at home that I just couldn’t bring myself to do when I got home because I was so tired from work? I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before, but when I work from home, I can take care of those things while I’m at work. When I need to take a two minute break to clear my head, instead of checking my email, I could clean the bathroom mirror! Instead of scrolling through BuzzFeed forever on my lunch break, I could tidy up my dresser! It was AMAZING and made me feel so much better about my productivity level/life in general. I’m definitely filing away that newfound information for future times of work/life balance stress.
3. I’m sad that the Olympics will be over soon! I’ve actually kept up with them this year (I didn’t pay much attention to Sochi or Rio), and it’s been a fun way to spend just about every night for the past two weeks. Although I have to say, NBC is killing me with their figure skating coverage! I don’t have cable, and therefore don’t have NBCSN, so my figure skating viewing has been limited to whenever NBC finally gets around to showing it on the nightly broadcast, which, in general, has been way too late for this old lady. (And by “way too late” I mean “like 9:45 p.m.” Haha.) But seriously! I’ve got to go to bed, man! These competitions are on school nights! I’m thankful I live in the Central time zone, because it’d obviously be even worse in the Eastern time zone, but I feel like the real solution to this problem is to just exclusively show figure skating on NBC, and show everything else on all the other channels. Never mind all the other athletes that have worked their entire lives to get to that point in their sport that is almost never, ever aired on broadcast TV – I want to see the pretty dresses and routines and get enough sleep! Is that so much to ask?? 😛 (I am joking, to be clear. The ACL-defying antics of the skiers and death-defying antics of all the sliders has been awesome to watch as well, even if there is a notable lack of sparkly outfits.)
Have you been watching the Olympics?