Speaking of Nature: A new record for October



I open the white three-ring binder that holds my birding commentary types. Inside the folder the types are divided by yr with colourful plastic divider tabs which have neatly printed quantity to point the totally different years and the OCD scientist in my head continually has to disregard the truth that the precise sequence of colours is just not the identical when the tabs repeat. How might one thing like this occur? Okay, okay. Have a sip of espresso, breathe deeply and transfer on.

Anyway, after I take a look at the information types for 2005 I see that the primary month represented is July, which is the month I moved in to my great pink home on the hill. I additionally be aware that the commentary types finish within the month of October. The following yr I didn’t resume my birdwatching actions till April, however I ended my observations in October once more. This sequence was repeated in 2007 and it wasn’t till 2008 that I lastly determined to record my observations for the total 12 months.

That’s when the notion of setting data first emerged and since then I’ve tried to see extra birds in a given month than I’ve ever managed to see earlier than. All these years later, painful as it might be, I’ve to confess that I’m now reaching the purpose at which the data which were set could also be approaching the standing of “unbeatable.” This previous October is an ideal instance of the state of affairs.

I began out slowly as a result of I used to be away from house on the primary weekend of the month, however by the second weekend of October I had managed to record a complete of 32 species. The quantity I used to be capturing for was 38, which was set all the best way again in 2012. It wasn’t till 2020 that I managed to tie the record, however I wished to beat it this yr so I put myself exterior every time attainable. It took me one other two weeks so as to add simply 5 extra species and on Saturday, Oct. 23, I used to be sitting on my deck, writing in my journals and hoping to detect species quantity 38.

The Oct. 23 entry in my black journal is a number of pages lengthy, however contained inside these pages is the next line: “At this point a bluebird or a cedar waxwing would do the trick.” I had reviewed the listing, checked out all of the empty bins and decided the “usual suspects” who have been lacking for some motive. Wildly uncommon species weren’t required. I simply wanted a pair of the regulars to indicate up.

About half an hour later, whereas writing about my success rising sunflowers in my flower bins, I heard the clear, high-pitched name be aware of a cedar waxwing and appeared as much as see a small flock of the birds perched within the uppermost branches of my beloved cottonwood tree. I had tied the record, however I wished extra.

The following Sunday didn’t yield something and I used to be considerably dejected when the workweek began. Record-breaking species may cross by my yard each day, however I wouldn’t be there to look at them. The solely factor that took some of the sting out of the state of affairs was the truth that rain had moved into the world and birding wouldn’t be fruitful. Then the climate began to interrupt on Thursday and Friday was completely good.

So, after I acquired house from work on Friday I used to be stuffed with absolute certainty that every one I wanted to do was seize my binoculars and scan the horizon. I began within the west and slowly panned eastward, however by the point I reached my easternmost restrict I had nothing. I then determined to pan again in the direction of the west and that’s after I noticed a powerful grownup red-tailed hawk that was hovering over the hayfields to the east. And identical to that I had a new record. But the actual magic occurred on Sunday, Oct. 31.

Another heat day, it wasn’t precisely an excellent day for birdwatching. If I’m utterly sincere I have to additionally admit that my motivation on that individual day was to keep away from any birdwatching exercise in order that I didn’t run up the rating and make subsequent yr’s job tougher. So, somewhat than exit with birding as my foremost goal I made a decision to work on my snow blower as an alternative. A drive belt wanted to get replaced and I used to be decided to do it whereas the climate was nice somewhat than procrastinating so lengthy that I needed to do the identical work in freezing temperatures.

So there I used to be, mendacity on the storage ground and preventing with this silly factor for over an hour. The storage doorways have been open, a pleasant breeze was blowing fallen leaves in little swirling patterns within the driveway and the expletives have been flying as this silly, inanimate object fought me at each flip. It was within the ultimate second of victory, when issues lastly popped into place with the kind of ease that prompt it ought to solely have taken me a complete of three minutes to do your complete job, that I heard the heartbreakingly stunning churtle of an jap bluebird.

In that second I used to be notably proud of myself as a result of I had one way or the other managed to determine the record-breaking species every week earlier than. I stated {that a} bluebird, or a cedar waxwing would do the trick and people have been the birds that I acquired. I simply had them within the fallacious order and luck threw in a red-tailed hawk for good measure. The new record for October is now 40 species and though it does go away the tiniest bit of room for extra a new record subsequent yr, I believe this one will stand for a few years to come back.

Bill Danielson has been knowledgeable author and nature photographer for 24 years. He has labored for the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, the Nature Conservancy and the Massachusetts State Parks and he at present teaches highschool biology and physics. For extra in formation go to his web site at, or head over to Speaking of Nature on Facebook.