So fellow travelers, after a simple Mother’s Day post, I signed off to enjoy my day with Favorite Youngest Daughter.
Later that evening, I scrolled through an abundance of posts on Instagram and Facebook from various friends and relations enjoying scrumptious brunches, festive dinners, day trips to other cities.
I smiled because I was able to celebrate my day in a different manner which filled my heart with joy.
After a round of phone calls to wish the Moms in my life a happy day, Favorite Youngest Daughter and I hit the road to scout for birds.
Birding on Mother’s Day became a new tradition a few years ago when a marching band event conflicted with our local Audubon Birdathon.
The OAS Birdathon is a twenty-four hour challenge held on the third Saturday of May, during which teams go afield in a designated geographic territory to identify by sight or sound as many different species as possible. It doesn’t matter how many bluebirds we find, once we’ve identified one bluebird, that species is checked off the list and we move on.
For my first birdathon adventure, over ten years ago, I was graciously given a chance to tag along with an experienced birder. I had a four wheel drive vehicle and I was not afraid to use it, so I was an asset regardless of my lack of birding experience. I returned home with so many stories of crazy encounters my daughter said “Mom, that sounds like fun. Can I go next year?”
So in 2006, Team Loonatics made their Birdathon debut with a goal of finding fifty species, an ambitious total for novice birders. Inspite of windy, chilly weather, absolutely awful conditions for birding, we managed to make our goal with a few extra species for good measure. When we returned home after fifteen hours, tired and chilled to the bone my then nine year old daughter said “That was great. Can we go again next year?”
So for eight consecutive years, on the third Saturday of May we headed out in search of birds to tally up, increasing our goal a bit each year. Each year, right around the first week in May, Favorite Youngest Daughter would ask if we were doing the Birdathon again.
Damn right we are, because I was not about to pass up something my kid was willing to do with me year after year, even through some difficult teenage growing pains. And when the band competition threw us off our schedule, we were both disappointed until we came up with the idea of going out on Mother’s Day. It’s been fun even though it had a different feeling without the competitive tallies.
With my daughter now home from her college adventure in Tokyo, Team Loonatics will be back afield again this season. Our species goal is up to one hundred and we have been out scouting locations and listening to bird call apps to get ready. Her gift of spending both Mother’s Day and Birdathon with me makes me twice blessed this year.
It’s a blessing I will hold fast and safe in my heart. A few days after we complete this year’s Birdathon she spreads her own wings, heading for the West Coast to take on the next leg of her college journey.
Great Egret at Fair Haven State Park, May 2008 Photo by Emma Rahalski
Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.