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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Ann Richter

This Is the Year!

A leather-banded wristwatch with roman numerals, a moon, and the date on its face. and a brown leather strap.,
Moon phase watch I bought in Germany way back in the 1990s. It’s long stopped working, but I keep it on my writing desk for the warm and fuzzy memories.

New year, new outlook, new attempt at blogging (boy, does that sound familiar). Maybe . . . maybe this year will be different. My novel BIRD NERD is coming out in October, so seeing that on the horizon might be the kick in the pants I need to finally get this blog rolling.

I’ll even make this my New Year’s resolution. And I’ll throw in a brand new feature to boot: the Bird of the Month, which you can find under my site's BIRD NERD page.

Okay, since I’m still calling this blog Birds and Stars, I’ll get right to it.

Project FeederWatch

Cornell Lab’s Project FeederWatch started in November and runs to April. I’ve done it for years, but this is the first time from my new Delaware home. So far 16 different species of birds have visited my Delaware backyard.

And just as I was drafting this, about 30 Red-winged Blackbirds landed, mostly pecking seed from the ground. I also spotted a Red-bellied Woodpecker in the big maple tree next to my feeders!

This season, I’m one of a limited number of participants selected to build a brush pile and to monitor that activity. So far, just lots of sparrows (White-throated, Song, and House) hopping around inside and perching on top as lookouts.

Christmas Bird Count

This is the first year I’ve participated in Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count, which is organized a bit differently than Project FeederWatch. To join, you have to reach out to the person organizing and compiling counts for a particular area. When I contacted my area’s compiler, I was offered the choice of going out with an existing group or covering a section that hasn’t been counted yet. I chose the latter (lone birder that I am) and decided to go birding at Abbott's Mill Nature Center.

On the blustery morning of December 19—the “Christmas” part of the count actually means any day within a designated three-week period—I arrived at the park and spent over four hours exploring its woodlands, meadows, farmlands, ponds, and wetlands. The highlight was finding a Hermit Thrush in a swamp forest.


Long nights and low humidity make winter the best time for stargazing. The only drawback is the cold. That’s why for now, I’m stargazing from my cozy office in the wee hours before I start my day. I don’t have a vast view of open skies, but there’s enough to keep me interested.

Over the past month I’ve been enjoying Venus, although it’s dipping lower and lower to the eastern horizon and by March will be washed out by the sun. The entire constellation of Corvus and part of Virgo (mainly its brightest star, Spica) have also filled my view. I tried finding the Stargate Asterism near Corvus, but my binoculars weren’t strong enough to get the full effect. (I really do need to get a telescope again.)


In other space news, I added my name to a list that will be traveling aboard a spacecraft to Jupiter’s moon, Europa! (Just my name, not me.)

I also added my husband, although he was less enthused about the whole thing. In addition to the names, the Europa Clipper will be carrying an exquisitely beautiful poem by Poet Laureate Ada Limón. The clipper is scheduled to be launched in October 2024 (same time as BIRD NERD!) and will arrive sometime around 2030.

Okay, that’s it for now. And I promise, I’ll do my best to keep blogging!

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