Wake up at 5:30 to start calling owls?
Wake up and note that temperature is 14 degrees and wind is howling with gusts of 30 miles an hour.
No problem.... well, no problem seeing the weather report and reflecting on how cold that must feel.
But, IT is the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count - and Cute Husband had our usual section of the Annapolis Area AND our birding rock star friend, Peter Kaestner was willing to get up even earlier to join us for the counting.
Somewhat of a problem for me.
I got out of the car with my multitude of layers that made the Michelin Tire Man look svelte and lasted about 15 minutes before the tip of my nose lost feeling and my fingers stopped working.
I am such the cold weather wimp.
If the temp is below 65 degrees, I've got the heat blasting in my car and the seat warmers on high.
Lucky for me, Cute Husband and Peter are hard core - as I spent most of the day peering through the car windows with my bins.
No owls responded to our calls, but as the sun rose, the birds started waking up and looking for a sunny spot and feeding in mixed flocks on anything that wasn't frozen.
Birding with Peter is such a fun game - no wonder the guy has over 8,000 birds on his life list (currently #7 in the world at 8,196!).
If he found a Ruby Crowned Kinglet, then there must be a Golden Crowned Kinglet.
And, as if magic, Peter would pish one out.
If we sat at a random bird feeder for 45 minutes, then certainly a bird of prey would show up....
And, eventually, a Cooper's Hawk came to check out the menu.
Our goal was 50 species for the day, which we didn't quite make (the owls would have helped), but (thanks to Peter's eye and determination) it was BirdCouple's best count of this area in 3 years.
The Christmas Bird Count is not just a great tradition, but it is also an important survey (the longest running wildlife census!) to assess the health of bird populations.
It is also a rare day of birding that every single bird counts and is counted.
Which makes this lone Black Vulture on a creepy old house even more special....