Saturday, December 21, 2019

2019 Year in Review

My dear friends, we're rapidly hurtling towards the close of another calendar year (thanks Pope Gregory XIII, honestly the whole 'conduit to God' thing was impressive enough for me, inventing a whole new calendar seems like overkill...), and it seems like the perfect time to talk about some of the stuff I did.

2019 was a fun year (though not likely as fun for me as 1572 was for Cardinal Ugo Boncompagni, who was elected Pope and took the name Pope Gregory XIII). It wasn't my most productive, but I did a lot of different, enjoyable things. Let's take a look.

  • In early January I published a piece about birding in the video game Red Dead Redemption 2 at Audubon. I love that game, and played it for hours and hours this year, eventually achieving a nerdy 100% completion. I committed myself to the game, much like Pope Gregory XIII committed himself to putting into practice the recommendations of the Council of Trent. The piece was well-received, and was republished in the Guardian and got me an interview on German NPR

  • I raked some muck in 2019, some birdy muck. In late 2018 I made the papers here in Maine for discovering that our state doesn't actually have an official state bird species, but rather an ambiguous "chickadee" (we have both Black-capped and Boreal). A state legislator took up the issue and introduced a bill to clarify the situation, and I was eventually hauled up to Augusta to testify in front of a legislative subcommittee about why this was an important issue (it is) and what the new state bird should be (Boreal). I felt like a big shot, like when Cardinal Boncompagni was sent by Pope Pious IV to investigate the Cardinal of Toledo! I was again asked onto NPR, in America this time. I wasn't convincing enough, however, and the bill died in the committee in March. 

  • In April I spoke with Tim Kimmel, the Supervising Sound Editor on Game of Thrones, about how his team puts real thought into the birds singing in the background of that show, and I put together a field guide to the background birds of Westeros.  You know who else put thought into things? Pope Gregory XIII, who in 1580 commissioned artists, including Ignazio Danti, to complete works to decorate the Vatican and commissioned The Gallery of Maps.

  • I was honored to appear in THREE episodes of the incredible new web series from Rob Meyer and hosted by Jason Ward, Birds of North America. I had a blast taking Jason and his brother Jeffrey and the one and only Rosemary Mosco around during a chilly Christmas Bird Count, and then I debated feral cats, the Trump Duck, and other important topics with Jason, and finally was included in the last video of Jason and Jeffrey tallying lifers in Maine. So much fun. 

  • I was delighted in June to publish a fun article about fixing birdy pro sports logos in Deadspin, one of my favorite websites. Not the happiest of endings, though, as the website went belly-up thanks to disastrous mismanagement just a few months later, and I never got paid. I was disappointed, much like Pope Gregory XIII was disappointed when Thomas Stukeley joined his forces with those of King Sebastian of Portugal against Emperor Abdul Malik of Morocco after landing in Ireland to aid the Catholics against the Protestant plantations.

  • I went birding in Newfoundland in July! Holy cow was that fun. I was guided by the incredible Jared Clarke of Bird the Rock, and joined by Ted Floyd and Nate Swick of the ABA and Jason Ward of Birds of North America. Nate interviewed us all for a great ABA podcast episode, and I shouted out the amazing sea watching at Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, where I had one of the absolute best birding experiences of my life. Most importantly, I finally got my lifer Thick-billed Murre, by 691st ABA bird! I was as excited as Pope Gregory XIII was in 1575 when he gave official status to the Congregation of the Oratory!

  • I got another ABA lifer (#692) in September, a Great Skua from the Maine Audubon Bar Harbor Pelagic!

  • The goofy insane Google Street View Birding group that I started on Facebook in Nov. 2018 has swelled to more than 2,700 members and are still out there finding new species in roadside images from all over the world. As of today we've collectively found 1,144 different species. That's a much larger number than the 34 cardinals in eight consistories Pope Gregory XIII created during his pontificate.

  • With only a few days left in the year and a few possibilities left (I am in VA for a few days), I am at 272 ABA species for the year, a very modest improvement over the 268 I ended at last year and a far cry from the 400+ I made in the pre-kid years. I haven't had a real birding trip in two years now (other than Newfoundland, which was incredible but wasn't a really high species count area), but that's changing in 2020. I've been asked to speak at the Laredo Birding Festival in February (please come see me! We can hang out!) and also just bought tickets for a week with buddies in Ecuador in March. Follow here or Twitter or wherever to follow along.

That's it! Love to you all. And, as Pope Gregory XIII said as he laid on his death bed in early April 585: "Thanks for reading my blog."


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Blog Design | 2007 Company Name