I have not been online much lately because I am busy with all things Christmas. This includes making my own Christmas Card for the first time in 4 years, as well as participating in the Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count this past Sunday. I discovered that I am having trouble relaxing when I sat down to paint last week. I have not done it in so long and I felt a creative block at first. I barely knew where or how to begin. I stared at the blank page for a long time, then took up my pencil and set my imagination free. All the time I had this little nagging voice in the back of my head saying, “I should be blogging. I should be counting birds, I should be processing photos! Isn’t there something ELSE I should be doing?” But I ignored the voice, took a deep breath and started drawing. When I finally had a concept that I liked, I colored in the picture with magic markers until I was set with the color combinations. Then, I redrew the image onto some canvas paper and started painting. I know I am not a Van Gogh or Monet by any standards. I do this because it is fun. I finally finished the painting yesterday, so today it is off to the printers and hopefully I will get these in the mail soon! I need to paint more often because I really need to relax!
Of course, I did take time to get a few Christmas decorations up. And then this cute little Christmas Elf showed up to help me! He is saying, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” even though he is wearing an incredible Hulk T-shirt. It is so much fun to see Christmas through his eyes. He spent last Christmas with his mother in Boston so it will be so much fun to spend this Christmas with him before Gus and I move back to Maine.
This past Sunday Chris Rohrer and I participated in the Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count. This was our second year doing this. It was a long and exhausting day but so much fun. I was up by 5 AM and out the door by 6:30. After picking Chris up we drove to Rich Hoyer’s house where we started the CBC. His house is right in the center of Area 22, which was the section we were counting in. Rich likes walking and we walked so many miles that day. While the morning started off cool, it soon warmed to the high 60’s, which was much warmer than last year. However, many of the locations we counted in were fairly quiet bird wise. Our best counts were early in the day in Rich’s neighborhood and at the University of Arizona ag. fields and farm. We counted 16 Vermillion flycatchers in that location alone and 28 overall! Still, our group counted 40 species in our section adding to a final total of 164 species this year, which is a record high number of species. We started the day with a group of 5 people. One of them was Carole DeAngeli whom I have known through my blog but was finally able to meet in person. She and another lady had to leave after the morning count, but Kelly Rishor stayed on and we continued together for the rest of the day. Chris became the driver so I could focus on keeping tally of all the species. I used my notebooks and Chris kept individual counts on his BirdLog app for eBird. At the end of the day we compared notes and compiled the final count for our section. eBird does want your CBC counts and they have put out guidelines for those of you who are eBirders or would like to become one. You can read all the info by clicking on the link eBirding Your Christmas Bird Counts.
Of course, one does see other things beside birds on the CBC:
Late in the afternoon we did take a side trip to Evergreen Cemetery which was outside of our section but still in the circle. Rich wanted to be sure the Greater Pewee, which has been hanging out there, was counted and added to the overall count. I wanted to see this bird species since I had only seen it one time when I lived here before. Though we tromped up and down the roads and in-between the graves we thought we would not find it for it was nowhere to be seen. We did find a group of coyotes walking among the graves and Chris was able to get a few pictures of them. I was so tired by then that I had put my camera away. But, just as we were all about to jump in the car and drive off the bird showed up! I grabbed my camera then and snapped off quite a few shots as the large flycatcher perched atop a dead snag at the edge of a section of graves!
So, I have not processed any new photos in awhile as this whole moving business has only added to the chaos of Christmas. I cannot believe Christmas is only a week away and I have not bought a single present! However, my focus is really not on presents this year. I want to spend time with my family and friends and make memories instead. I feel I am participating in Christmas in my own way and making my Christmas card is my own personal present to my family and friends. Therefore, I had better go get it printed before its too late! I will try to have a new blogpost with new photos up here soon, but forgive me if it doesn’t happen! (And a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has commented on my blog!)
I wish you all a peaceful and joyous holiday season!
Blog Links of CBC Participants: