Forgive me, Friends, for I have been remiss. It has been 393 days since my last blog.

As I look back over the last year to try to discover where I went astray, one thing has become abundantly clear: Life is not a straight line. There you are, trekking along happily in one direction, certain of the clear path ahead, when suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Life throws something totally unexpected at you and everything changes.

Discovering birding was such a life-altering event for me a few years ago and I feel fortunate that I was able to pursue this passion with abandon, seeing more birds and more places in Arizona than in the entire 18 years we’ve lived here. In 2018, I even achieved an unexpected goal. Thanks to the friends I discovered along the way, I ended the year in third position with the most number of birds seen in Arizona that year.

But early last year, Life decided to throw several obstacles in my way (some of my choosing and others not). As my bird-chasing trips became limited and then virtually non-existent, I watched with envy throughout the year as friends chased some pretty exciting birds, many of which would have been lifers for me. Now, as a new year has begun, I find that although I still miss the thrill of chasing the uncommon birds that venture into Arizona with my friends, I’m learning to keep a more open mind about the new pathways and opportunities that have, of necessity, opened themselves up to me.

This is not an easy state of mind to achieve. One can easily fall into the rabbit hole of self-pity and waste a lot of time being angry and asking pointless questions such as, “why me? why us? why them?” The other alternative is that one can, as the proverbial phrase goes, “make lemonade out of lemons” and turn the bitter into sweet.

That being said, my choice to stay closer to home put me back in touch with the birds in my ‘hood and I was rewarded richly with a number of new “patch” birds – 23 in fact – bringing the total number of species I’ve seen in Verrado since I started counting birds in 2017 to 134. As we enter the first year of a new decade, I have resolved to remain positive and enjoy whatever Life brings me. I look forward to discovering what new treasures I may find in Verrado.

Let me share with you few favorite pics of Verrado birds from 2019. Click on any image to start the slide show and read about the birds.

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