Each Christmas week for 111 consecutive years, the Audubon Society has sponsored the Christmas Bird Count in order to get data on birds that winter in the United States. This is my first year doing the count and I didn't really know how to get involved. The Audubon website makes you pick a "circle" closest to your zip code and then sign up. A circle is literally a circle on a map where Audubon has determined a count can take place. No circles showed up around 19046 (Rydal, not Jenkintown) which were "open". An open circle means that any individual can sign up on the website, download the forms, pick a date between Dec 11 and Jan 4, and count. So, I was at a loss about how to sign up.
I emailed the local chapter of Audubon Society and asked if the BirdNerds could join a circle. Andy emailed me to say that he could use help at Gwynned Preserve. I thought "great, we can help the leader". Um, no. I was the leader. No problem. The nerds plus Renee and another woman named Judy went to Gwynned on Dec 18th. None of the nerds have ever been there before but Andy told us to look for the Harrier - which we saw. Did I mention that it is December in Pennsylvania? F-ing freezing. I decided to break out the deal of the century from Cabelas as a joke:
No joke. I wore it the whole day - along with the funny elf hat that my mother sent me for Christmas. I got the one piece women's camoflage hunting suit (with hood) for $49. I couldn't pass it up.
Then, Patty sends my name into another Audubon guy and tells him that I am interested in helping out. This guy hooks me up with the CBC at Norristown Farm Park on Dec 26th (today). Of course, I didn't learn my lesson about the freezing cold so I went along. This time, I wasn't the leader thank goodness. This time, Barbara (not the nerd, but another good birder) already scouted the area and told us that we would probably see a Great Horned Owl - which we did at 0'dark:30. We also saw another 42 species. Did I mention that it is December in Pennsylvania? F-ing freezing AND F-ing snowing. The camo didn't come out today since it was my first time meeting these nice people:
Believe me, there are long underwear under those jeans. This is taken at Valley Forge National Park. You might as well be able to see General Washington commanding the troops in the background.