Buh bye 2015

Recently I shared a FB meme that said (paraphrasing) I’m not the same person I was at the beginning of the year. Understatement. I’m now divorced after 25 years of marriage and in a relationship with a wonderful man, a cowboy named Ted. Not to disparage my ex, but Ted is the most compassionate, honest, genuine man I’ve ever known and have the privilege to call my boyfriend.

We met on Match.com, which I joined shortly after my legal separation was on the books in October. I wanted to start dating again, but my main reason for joining was to convince myself that I was still attractive. Dating is scary. I haven’t dated since I was in my 20s. I don’t know the rules. I met some ok guys but didn’t have sparks. This time around, I vowed I wouldn’t settle for someone I didn’t really like so much. And I didn’t.

I took a chance when I met Ted and it’s paid off in innumerable ways. We met October 27th and have been in an exclusive relationship since November 7th. Yes, it was fast, according to some. But my marriage ended emotionally for me Christmas 2014, so I had moved on and was ready in my heart. He lost his wife in October 2014 and was ready for a relationship with someone who shared the same interests. He’s reacquainted me with the me that I haven’t seen in years – being with horses, being around horse people, riding again, and learning a new sport (ranch sorting, in which Ted competes). Ted lives a simpler life than I, but I embrace it. I embrace our differences and our similarities. In a word, he makes me feel safe. Add in all the fun we’ve had and I see a bright future.

Who knows what awaits me in 2016. What awaits you in the new year?

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Loss and Gain

2014 has been a tough year. My dad died on Oct. 23rd. Our Lacey died on Oct. 21st (exactly 8 years to the day that our Coupar died suddenly). Our Trevor died in June. Even though I’ve experienced the depths of sorrow this year, I’ve also experienced the joy of adopting our kitty Jet in October, getting Kellan’s HT title, and going to India for almost two weeks, which included a four-day solo vacation in a gorgeous spot in Kerala. I look forward to more adventures in 2015 and gaining even more wisdom as I grow older.

My excellent adventure in India

Fantastic trip to Thattekkad, Kerala, India, November 22-26, 2014. I stayed at the Hornbill Camp, which I highly recommend for intrepid travellers. I felt very safe there. Saw some interesting critters: A four-foot monitor lizard. A mongoose. The Malabar Giant Squirrel. And of course the birds I saw…93 species in all:

Jungle Myna
Common Myna
Black Baza
Red-wattled Lapwing
Whiskered Tern
Common Pigeon
Malabar Parakeet
Common Hawk Cuckoo
Jungle Owlet
Brown Hawk Owl
Sri Lanka Frogmouth
Great Eared Nightjar
Jerdon’s Nightjar
Indian Swiftlet
Dollarbird
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Greater Goldenback
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Rufous Treepie
House Crow
Red-vented Bulbul
Jungle Babbler
Alpine Swift
Ashy Drongo
Ashy Woodswallow
Asian Fairy Bluebird
Asian Paradise-flycatcher
Barn Swallow
Black-hooded Oriole
Black-naped Monarch
Blyth’s Starling
Brahminy Kite
Bronzed Drongo
Brown Shrike
Brown-breasted Flycatcher
Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
Cattle Egret
Common Iora
Common Kingfisher
Crested Goshawk
Crested Serpent Eagle
Crimson-backed Sunbird
Dark-fronted Babbler
Drongo Cuckoo
Flame-throated Bulbul
Golden-fronted Leafbird
Great Tit
Green Bee-eater
Green Sandpiper
Grey Junglefowl
Grey Wagtail
Grey-fronted Green Pigeon
Heart-spotted Woodpecker
Indian Golden Oriole
Indian Pond Heron
Intermediate Egret
Large-billed Leaf Warbler
Lesser Goldenback
Lesser Whistling Duck
Lesser Yellownape
Little Cormorant
Little Spiderhunter
Loten’s Sunbird
Malabar Barbet
Malabar Grey Hornbill
Malabar Woodshrike
Nilgiri Flowerpecker
Orange Minivet
Oriental Honey-buzzard
Oriental Magpie Robin
Paddyfield Warbler
Plum-headed Parakeet
Purple Heron
Purple Sunbird
Purple-rumped Sunbird
Red-rumped Swallow
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Rufous Babbler
Rusty-tailed Flycatcher
Small Minivet
Southern Coucal
Spotted Dove
Stork-billed Kingfisher
Streak-breasted Woodpecker
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
Verditer Flycatcher
Vernal Hanging Parrot
White-bellied Treepie
White-breasted Waterhen
White-browed Wagtail
White-cheeked Barbet
White-throated Kingfisher

Trevor

We let Trevor go yesterday. I hope he’s in a place where there’s no pain or suffering. It was a horribly hard decision to make. He stopped eating, even baby food. We always said that when he stopped eating, it was time. Yet we still second-guessed. If we gave him antibiotics, would they help his probable gum infection? Probably. But what would happen next? He was 20 years old. He had chronic renal failure, a heart murmur, thyroid disease, teeth that needed to be extracted, and who knows what else. He was diagnosed with CRF and the heart murmur in 2006, and had been on meds ever since.

This past spring, a lower canine was protruding from his mouth. The vet recommended extraction, plus a complete dental exam and possible additional extractions, but no dental vet was available for at least two months. The estimated cost? Starting at $2500 and going up-way up-from there. We chose not to pursue the dental work. Had Trevor been half his age, we would have done it. But we had to be realistic. So his advanced gum infection is probably what led to his dying.

I expect him to come around the corner. I think I see him out of the corner of my eye. Marty and I burst into tears at the thought of him. I’ll never hold him, smell his delicious cat smell, or sit in the chair stroking him as he purred and pushed against my hand, ever again. The finality of everything hurts so much.

I held him while the vet administered the drugs. We sobbed so hard when he left us. But he knew how much we love him. I know he did. I thank God for every day we had with him, no matter how annoying he could be. He sat on the kitchen table and waited impatiently for bits. When we didn’t give him something from our plates, he tried to take it anyway. He loved catnip. He tolerated the dogs. Way back in 1994, he curled up with our Dante in the family room of our first house. We have pictures but I can’t look at them yet.

What a cat. I named him Trevor, our average-sized brown tabby. But his names were also Trebbie, Treb, Tray-ebb, Trev, Mr Kitty. I would hold him and whisper “kitty” to him in a special voice meant only for his ears. And he heard me.

Our biggest week in American birding 2014

We just spent May 8-10, 2014, at the Biggest Week in American Birding in Oregon, Ohio. What a trip! This 10-day festival is located in Northwest Ohio, which for several weeks in the spring is the Warbler Capitol of the World. To find out more, visit www.biggestweekinamericanbirding.com.

Highlights:

  • Seeing 24 lifers out of 94 species.
  • Getting Kenn Kaufman’s autograph on his Field Guide to Birds of North America.
  • Getting the autographs of Madison Grimm and Adam Grimm on their limited edition (1 of 100) posters commemorating their first place finishes in the 2013 Federal Duck Stamp Contests for their age categories, and honor of having their paintings appear on this year’s duck stamps. These father and daughter native Ohioans are incredible artists; Madison was only 6 years old when she painted her winning Canvasback in oils. I met her at the reception for them; she’s a very precocious 7-year-old who is an incredible artist like her father. I also got her autograph on the 2013 Federal Junior Duck Stamp. Amazing.

What I wished I had:

  • A flash extender. I will buy one of these very soon.

What we saw in Magee Marsh, Metzger Marsh, the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and surrounding fields in Oregon and Oak Harbor,OH:

American coot

American goldfinch

American kestrel

American redstart

American robin

American wigeon

American woodcock

Bald eagle

Baltimore oriole

Barn swallow

Black and white warbler

Black-billed cuckoo

Blackburnian warbler

Black-capped chickadee

Blackpoll warbler

Black-throated blue warbler

Black-throated green warbler

Blue jay

Blue-gray gnatcatcher

Blue-winged teal

Brown thrasher

Brown-headed cowbird

Canada goose

Canada warbler

Cape May warbler

Chestnut-sided warbler

Common gallinule

Common grackle

Common merganser

Common tern

Common yellowthroat

Dark-eyed junco

Double-crested cormorant

Downy woodpecker

Dunlin

Eastern kingbird

Eastern meadowlark

Eastern phoebe

Eastern screech owl

European starling

Gray-cheeked thrush

Great blue heron

Great egret

Greater yellowlegs

Green heron

Grey catbird

Hairy woodpecker

House sparrow

House wren

Indigo bunting

Kentucky warbler

Killdeer

Least flycatcher

Louisiana waterthrush

Magnolia warbler

Mallard

Mourning dove

Mourning warbler

Nashville warbler

Northern cardinal

Northern flicker

Northern waterthrush

Ovenbird

Palm warbler

Prothonotary warbler

Purple martin

Red-eyed vireo

Red-tailed hawk

Red-winged blackbird

Ring-billed gull

Rose-breasted grosbeak

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Scarlet tanager

Song sparrow

Sora rail

Summer tanager (first year male)

Swainson’s thrush

Tree swallow

Trumpeter swan

Turkey vulture

Veery

Warbling vireo

White-crowned sparrow

White-eyed vireo

White-faced ibis

White-throated sparrow

Wilson’s warbler

Wood duck

Wood thrush

Yellow warbler

Yellow-breasted chat

Yellow-rumped warbler (mainly Myrtle)

Yellow-throated vireo

Mammals/fish:

Carp

Deer

Muskrat

Painted turtle

Snapping turtle

Star and me

Star and I earned his Beginner Novice title with second place in Beginner Novice B at the Irish Setter Club of Colorado obedience trial on August 16, 2013! He is now Realta’s Starry Starry Night RN BN HIC CIG. Star_BN His heeling was abysmal. I need to prepare him better for heeling in the ring. It’s like he loses his mind when doing the heeling pattern and the Figure 8. Strange. He did great on the rest of the exercises.

I’m very proud of my Star.

My osprey photo

It doesn’t get much better than this sometimes. Tuesday, August 13: Found out that my osprey photograph took second place in the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program’s 2014 Calendar contest – out of 100+ entries. The same day: Gary Lefko, admin of Colorado Birder (coloradobirder.ning.com) put my osprey photo on the website banner with a photo credit. He interviewed me and made me Featured Colorado Birder. That’s some rarified air; you should see the photos other Colorado Birders post there.Image

My New Zealand Adventure

I spent six days on the South Island of New Zealand from 10/20/12 to 10/26/12. It was jam-packed with adventure and work – it was a business trip with a couple days tacked on for sightseeing. Got to go back with Marty. Saw many birds:

House Sparrow

Blackbird

Paradise Shelduck

Australasian Harrier (Swamp Harrier)

Chaffinch

Australian Magpie

Mallard

Canada Goose

Australian Shoveler

White-faced Heron

Black Swan

Welcome Swallow

California Quail

Pukeko (like our Purple Gallinule)

Domestic Geese

Southern Black-backed Gull

South Island Tomtit

Skylark

Goldfinch

Silvereye

Masked Lapwing (Spur-Winged Plover)

Kereru (Wood Pigeon)

New Zealand Gray Fantail

Spotted Shag

Pied Shag

Yellowhammer

Starling

Tern from a distance – no idea what it was

Red-billed Gull

Variable Oystercatcher

Little Blue (White-flippered) Penguin

Yellow-eyed Penguin

Song Thrush

Sulfur-crested Cockatoo

Rock Pigeon

While at Willowbank, a fantastic nature preserve outside of Christchurch, I saw these birds (some being rehabilitated, some serving as ambassadors):

Kea

Tui

South Island Takahe

Little Spotted Kiwi

Barbary Dove

 

 

Birding in Texas

Just got back from a week in Surfside, Texas (40 miles south of Galveston on the coast), where we stayed in a beach house with family and friends. Spent some great hours birding in the area, at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, San Bernard NWR, and Brazos Bend State Park. Saw 62 bird species, 10 of which are lifers for me. I’ll start with the 10 lifers:

  • Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
  • Northern Bobwhite
  • Neotropic Cormorant
  • Wood Stork (finally!)
  • Mississippi Kite
  • Purple Gallinule
  • Marbled Godwit
  • Sandwich Tern
  • Summer Tanager
  • Painted Bunting

Also saw big ol’ turtles, white-tailed deer, and more than a few alligators! The rest of the birds, in no particular order:

  • Mallard
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Brown Pelican
  • Anhinga (love those Anhinga!!)
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Tricolored Heron
  • Cattle Egret
  • Green Heron
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron
  • Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
  • White Ibis
  • Glossary Ibis
  • White-faced Ibis
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Crested Caracara
  • Common Moorhen
  • American Coot
  • Killdeer
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • American Avocet
  • Willet
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Laughing Gull
  • Least Tern
  • Black Skimmer
  • Mourning Dove
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • American Crow
  • Purple Martin
  • Cliff Swallow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Gray Catbird
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Seaside Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Dickcissel
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Boat-tailed Grackle
  • Great-tailed Grackle
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • House Sparrow

Fabulous birding with DFO

Enjoyed a great birding trip with Denver Field Ornithologists this morning at Lair O’ the Bear park. Saw and/or heard 23 species:

  • Great Blue Heron
  • Bullock’s Oriole
  • Western Kingbird
  • Spotted Towhee
  • Violet-Green Swallow
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Lesser Goldfinch
  • American Robin
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • American Goldfinch
  • Song Sparrow
  • Gray Catbird
  • Northern Flicker
  • House Wren feeding young
  • Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  • Dusky Flycatcher
  • Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Gray-headed Junco
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Northern Rough-Winged Swallow (a first)
  • Lazuli Bunting
  • Black-headed Grosbeak female and young