Good morning, everyone – It looks like the next several days are going to be wonderful for winter birding! I hope everyone gets out and enjoys diving birds on the lake and soaring birds in the air and surprising birds in the trees and hedgerows.
Before the next blast of snow, sleet, ice, high winds, downed trees and whatever else winter has waiting for us, though, I’d like to share a cautionary thought. We all do things that might not be the smartest, when we’re pursuing our passions. I remember walking out onto the Portage Glacier in Alaska, in the early morning, all alone, while it was pouring sleet, because someone told me there might be a Willow Ptarmigan there. Not only did I discover that a sheet of ice with sleet on it is extremely slippery; the only bird I saw was a Varied Thrush that followed me for a while, apparently curious about the stupidity of the solitary two-legged creature. I remember another outing, a trek that Pat Folsom and I took to Ausable Point State Park to find a Yellow-throated Warbler: white-knuckle driving and – worse! – no warbler! (We did get really close to a gorgeous adult Bald Eagle though.)
Chasing rarities in bad weather can give us great stories to tell later. But I urge everyone to be aware that we’re not only putting ourselves in danger. We’re risking the lives of first responders who will leave their own families and their own warm, safe homes immediately when we call for help.
I come from a family of first responders (grandfather, two uncles, father, brother, two cousins and a nephew) and I have friends who take part in backwoods rescues every winter. These people willingly head out into storms - but when they’re back home they (and their families) have choice words for people who don’t take Vermont winters seriously!
Maeve Kim, Jericho Center