Wow! Hard as it is to believe, a decade comes to a close tomorrow. The decade in which Lisa and Warren met, married and discovered/renewed their joint love of the outdoors and of birds. The decade in which we traveled to Africa, India, Costa Rica, Texas, Florida, California, North Dakota and a lot of other places in search of adventure and avian friends.
The decade, too, when our boys Mitch and Adam graduated from high school and started college and the road to full adulthood. And the decade, sadly, that Lisa's father, Tom, did not live to see completed.
Like other blogs, including A DC Birding Blog, have done, we are going to mark the occasion with a recap of the decade's 10 best birds. Well, at least some of the 10 best. There were so many! These aren't just bird sightings, of course, but life experiences and learning adventures.
1. Resplendent Quetzal. September 21, 2003, Monteverde, Costa Rica. Almost all had migrated away for the season, but our Tican guide found the last one in a rainy rain forest. Warren proposed to Lisa the next day.
2. Snowy Owl. December 21, 2008, Assateague Island, Maryland. A bird we'd long longed to see. We wandered around the beach until a Park Ranger drove up and offered to take us right to the bird. He did. Lisa declined a ride back down the beach, for which Warren will forever tease her.
3. Ostrich. May 15, 2007. En route Okanjima, Namibia. As many times as you've seen pictures and TV shows, this bird is stunning in real life. Namibia was a magical vacation, full of amazing wildlife, birds and panoramas. Shhhhh! It's also a well-kept secret.
4. Painted Stork. March 11, 2009. Bharatpur, India. Hard to pick a favorite among the more than 100 species we saw in India, but the lovely, goofy Painted Storks stole our hearts as they necked and nuzzled. (Original post is here).
5. Baltimore Oriole. May 3, 2002, Sanderling, North Carolina. Our first real birding trip together. Would Birdcouple work? Did Lisa think Warren was a weird birder, or did she like it? She did! And she was captivated by a bright male oriole hit by a shaft of sunlight on an otherwise cloudy, windy day.
6. Grey-Crowned Yellowthroat. Sabal Palm Refuge, Texas, April 2, 2005. Quick, but great, looks at this rare border-crosser from Mexico, one of the rarest North American birds on our lists.
7. Tropical Kingbird. Somerset County, Maryland, December 30, 2006. Found by others during a Christmas Bird Count, this was a stunning first record of the bird for Maryland. Warren dipped on it on his first try, but Lisa and he went back and got their prize, a great way to celebrate year's end.
8. Clark's Nutcracker. Cathedral Lake, Yosemite National Park, California, August 20, 2002. Another early trip. We hiked deep into back country--and bear country--without really knowing what we were doing. As the full moon rose, we heard the voices and saw the lights of mountain climbers on nearby Cathedral Peak. Walking around the lake in the morning, a bird flew nearby, flashing white wing and tail patches. Warren had never seen one, but knew what it was. One way to impress the new girlfriend.
9. Wood Thrush. Point No Point Drive, Annapolis, Maryland. Every April 23-24. They arrive like clockwork in the back woods and sing throughout the spring, "our" little miracles from Central America.
10. Hummingbird, species. April 29, 2006. Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas, Florida. Warren was standing on the beach looking out at the ocean when he saw a tiny object fly in across the water and buzz a few feet over his head. It was a hummingbird, and it had just completed the journey across the Gulf of Mexico. Awe-inspring and unforgettable.
Bring on the 2010s!