I moved to Berrien in 2006, finally having emerged from the 24th grade into the light at the end of the medical training tunnel. Through Berrien Bird Club I met many of the active birders at the time; Tim and I quickly hit it off. We started birding Tiscornia regularly, and birding led to birds, exciting ones. Early discoveries like Glaucous-winged Gull, Say's Phoebe, and others gave Tiscornia (and Berrien Co in general) incredible potential. And what greater thing is there than potential. It's the promise of a future to be created, full of discoveries to be made and experiences to be had, with limits barely defined.
I'd had a website in med school (html coded by hand, line by line, and filled with sketchy resolution scans of photos taken on film) which had gone away with graduation, and I wanted a medium to display photos. I eventually settled on this blog in 2008. That first year I chronicled a BiGBY (Big Green Big Year - a list without using fossil fuel). I bicycled 1000+ miles that year and had one of the highest county counts in the country (though Alison destroyed my Berrien record a year or so later). But the blog was born, and there was a clear narrative as we made deep forays into county listing. It was just digi-scoped pics initially, but standing atop the bluff at Tiscornia, Tim introduced me to SLR photography after a few years; potential started to transition into realized numbers and rarities. Birds were actively sought, and many, like Nelson's Sparrow and Yellow Rail, were found. What I was introduced to atop that dune would anchor my ability to re-set and re-charge for years.
And as the potential locally blossomed yet another avenue opened up. Mike at the end of the pier sold some of us on a trip to Costa Rica. I would soon make annual trips to the Neo-tropics (occasionally sneaking in a conference or spring break trip in addition). My world expanded as antpittas, ground-cuckoos, oilbirds, hummingbird feeder lunches in Paraiso, or deck afternoons in Ecuador exponentially increased the settings, the scenes, the experiences. And I tried, I tried really hard, to experience as much as I could.
But at some point that unlimited potential starts developing boundaries. Growing further dreams becomes harder. Kenn Kaufman in Kingbird Highway references something similar with his Tucson 5, a group of young birders that he came of age with in the birding world. As they got older they started (probably subconsciously at first) to drift apart but he describes them maybe joking or laughing or drinking too hard, still trying to maintain the intensity of a blaze that had peaked. The rise was amazing, and the peak too, but eventually does growth come to an end. Can we find the time and space to keep adding fuel. Birds like Red Phalarope, Black-legged Kittiwake, Califonia Gull, and Western Grebe became birds that were no longer Hail Mary throws at the horizon; they were birds that with work could be found every few years. Others like Sabine's Gull, the eiders and a few more, have been exasperatingly difficult to reliably pin down.
I've found it harder to find the time to write as admin duties at work increase and the easy birding themes have been explored. I would like to be able to put far more effort into the writing; too often the words are just a segue between pics. I would like to build some new narratives. I have always been willing to work hard to bring dreams to reality. And I have dreams. Some of them can be out of my control; acceptance of that sometimes comes hard. Time, like experiences, like interactions, like life itself, has limits in how it can be spent and where it can be apportioned. I thank you for spending some of that time (nearly 350 thousand times per my counter!!!) with me in these posts chronicling many of the highlights.
I don't know what the future holds as I close out this blog, none of us do. I hope that all of us find what we're looking for. I know that I've very much enjoyed the seeking. So thank you.