The winter brain is more relaxed. We know these birds as they're with us all year. About the end of December though, birders start longing for a glimpse of different birds. The summer brain is stirring below the surface...
The obvious answer is a vacation. Somewhere warm, sunny, and filled with birds you a) haven't seen for months or b) have never seen before. Welcome vacation birder brain.
For most of the winter I had been living in redpoll land, with daily visits from Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers and Black-capped chickadees. Tiny birds everywhere.
Our first morning there, I hopped out of bed and looked out the window for a bird check. It was snowing. My birding brain stalled. Should I be looking for Arizona birds or Snow Buntings? With my mind still on redpoll alert, it took a few minutes to realize I wasn't going to find any.
Feeling like three kinds of a wimp, we hardy Canadians whined about the cold wet weather for three days. Then we made a break for it and went south to Phoenix.
By this time, my husband's cold had really settled in so he wasn't keen on a lot of activity. We made a short visit to the Desert Botanical Garden and were greeted by a Curve-billed Thrasher. At last! My birding brain finally began to catch up with where it was.
The GWR is a water reclamation site with 8 large ponds, all surrounded by thick shrubs. We've been to similar sites in other locations, and the birding is always great. The key element at GWR though, is that at any given time, some of the ponds may be drained, or draining, or even dry. Mudflats! Water! Shrubs! Dirt!
|Fluffy lil Black-chinned Hummingbird|
|They even have House Finches with their head on backwards. What a place!|
Now back in Calgary, the creaky old birding brain had to change course yet again. Did I just hear a mockingbird? Is that a Great Egret? No wait...it's a lump of snow. Oh look. A redpoll.
Having to change seasonal birding brains is hard enough, but try doing winter-summer-winter brain in the space of ten days.
Now I'm back in the land of frozen lakes.