New Year's day has traditionally been our family's annual birding day in the Skagit River Delta of Puget Sound. The snow geese and swans come down from the Arctic for the winter and settle across the farmland like patches of snow. Their arrival and stay for the winter months means all the raptors come out for the pickings, as well as hunters. Birders and hunters keep uneasy company on the same public lands every weekend this time of year.
Each New Year's our group is made up of a core of family, whether my mom's side or my dad's. This year my twin and I and our kids and hubby (hers) drove north with our dad, who has been our guide for our entire lives. We always hit the same spots along the delta, looking for owls, snow geese, swans and raptors. Fresh air, long conversations in the car, coffee stops, and a lavish tailgate lunch at Bay View State Park are guaranteed every year (I wish I had gotten a shot of our spread at lunch time--we never forget to bring a bottle of wine either!).
Getting the little ones into birding is tops on our list. Sis and I have been at this since toddler-hood so our kids are genetically programmed to take up birding too. They had a great time whacking ice and were impressed by the vast flock of thousands of snow geese that covered the sky like an undulating rain cloud, much like a murmuration of starlings, only tens of times larger. At this age the kids need something dramatic to impact their memory of a day out birding, and luckily the birds never disappoint.
I intend to get out more this winter so stay tuned. New Year's is the family occasion, and additional birding trips every winter are just extra icing on the cake.