Overall this has been a very good year in my life and I have been extremely blessed considering the madness that goes on in the world. There have been far too many losses of family and friends but unfortunately, that is the cycle life.
Communing with nature is one of my great joys; it calms the spirit and soothes the soul. Looking back through photos from 2011, I considered which were most personnally memorable. Maybe not the best shots, but which had the most meaning either by interaction with or was such a thrill to see.
#1 had to be the Northern Bobwhite. On two separate occasions, I spent an hour with this bird. Mimicking the birds call, I was able to get it to come within 6-8 feet of where I was standing or sitting. It showed no fear, was curious and spent at least 20 minutes responding back to my whistles.
#2 - Yellow Breasted Chat. Alone at the park one morning, I heard the bird "chatting" and began imitating it's calls back. Before long, it approached and stayed very close probably 10 minutes. Very cool experience to get it to chat back with you.
#3 - Common Yellowthroat feeding Cowbird chick. For 30 minutes, I watched the Yellowthroat working hard to feed the chick. The memorable part was just being witness to one of nature's flukes and marveling at the dedication of one species to another.
#4 - Scissor Tailed Flycatcher - First, this is not a bird common to this area. For two weeks, I would catch a glimpse of this bird but was never able to pull off and try to figure out what it was. Finally one weekend morning, there it was, no traffic and I was able to confirm what it was. This was a first for me so I was thrilled.
#5 - Eagle mating ritual. What more can you say. Our national bird, beautiful, majestic and powerful.
#6 - Doe nursing fawn. Not that this is so special but it touched me. I was able to watch her for about 10 minutes as the fawn nursed and then the doe did a cleaning check on the fawn. It was such a sweet natural moment that I enjoyed.
#7 - Painted Bunting - They come to the southern coastal area during summer. Their beauty speaks for itself. Another first for me.
#8 - Green Heron - Again, nothing so unusal but the enounter was memorable. One of those rare alone times in the park where for 20 minutes, the GH strolled along the edge hunting. They are usually so shy and wary that it was memorable from the standpoint of being able to closely observe one for an extended period.
#9 - Dickcissel pair - Again, these are not normal birds to the area and was a first for me. This pair took up here this year and subsequently nested. Hopefully they will return this year.
#10 - Otter - Late October, a pair of otters stayed at the park for a couple of weeks. On the day of this photo, I had the thrill of watching them from a hide as they went about doing what otters do. For 20 minutes, I tracked them down the edge of the creek watching their playful behavior and hunting methods.
So these are my top 10 memorable nature moments for 2011. I look forward to the new year to see what Mother Nature will have in store. Blessings to all for a wonderful new year and may birding be grand!