I respectfully acknowledge that the land in and around Edmonton, Alberta where I will be embarking on this challenge is located within the Treaty 6 region, the ancestral and traditional territories of the ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐤ ᐊᐢᑭᕀ Nêhiyaw-Askiy (Plains Cree), Ĩyãħé Nakón mąkóce (Stoney), Michif Piyii (Métis), Tsuut’ina, and Cree people. Source: native-land.ca
I settled into my chair and powered on my computer, eager to begin planning my birding adventures for the upcoming year. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of excitement and anticipation as I thought about the endless possibilities that lay ahead. With a few clicks of my mouse, I opened up a new spreadsheet document and the eBird website. My eyes scanned the screen taking in the rows of empty cells with each one waiting to be filled with a new destination. Utilizing the hotspot map, I began to enter different locations. My fingers danced across the keyboard as I considered each potential destination and birding opportunity. This document would be my guide for the coming year, guiding me on my quest for discovery to new and exciting places. With each keystroke, my determination to make the most of the coming year grew stronger, fueling my excitement as I set to work over the course of the evening.
Initially, I planned to explore new locations within the province of Alberta to discover areas I haven’t explored, and avian species that are uncommon in my area, but as I perused the map I reflected on my values as a birder/photographer/someone who strongly cares for the environment and how I want to show up in this space. (I briefly touched on this in my Adventure Awaits blog post).
My passion for birding is not just a mere hobby, but a deep-seated appreciation for the natural world and its inhabitants. As a photographer, I aim to capture the true essence of these feathered creatures and share their beauty with others. Above all, I remained steadfast in my unwavering commitment to protecting and conserving the environment, ensuring that my birding adventures do not come at the expense of the very nature that I cherish.
To realign my priorities, I chose to redirect my focus towards appreciating the native bird species in my local area instead of dedicating a considerable amount of time and resources travelling to distant locations. According to the observation records, the Edmonton area boasts an impressive count of 317 bird species (+93 other taxa) listed in the eBird Field Checklist. So far, I have only laid eyes on 49 of these magnificent creatures, leaving me with an abundance of undiscovered beauty right in my own backyard.
With a renewed sense of purpose, I decided to define the scope of my birding adventures and challenge myself to stick to a 50-kilometer radius from my home. Delving deeper into the local avian community, immersing myself in the diversity of species within my own backyard, developing a more intimate connection with the natural world around me, and discovering hidden gems in Edmonton and the surrounding area.
I meticulously evaluated each potential location, scouring my arsenal of resources for information that could aid me. Sighting lists, bar charts, species and area maps, and photographs all contributing to my comprehensive understanding of the birds in the area. With each selection, I took into account not only the chances of encountering a wide variety of bird species in their natural habitats, but also the possibility of discovering new species that I have yet to see.
After evaluating the vast amount of data at my disposal, I carefully selected a handful of prime locations from the 50-kilometer boundary that I had set for myself and added them to my spreadsheet. My selections were purposefully diverse, ranging from the serene river valley, busting city parks, and tranquil ponds within the limits of Edmonton, to the breathtaking lakes, pristine nature sanctuaries, lush meadows, and sprawling marches that extended in every direction beyond the city.
With these carefully chosen locations, I felt confident that I created a well-rounded and fulfilling list of birding locations for the coming year. Whether I am in the mood for a peaceful stroll through a quiet nature sanctuary, or a pocket of nature within the city, I have a diverse range of options to choose from when I head out on my birding adventures.
My challenge extends beyond the distance from my home. It also encompasses my unrelenting desire to spend as much time as possible in the field, slowing down and honing my birding and photography skills, as well as perfecting my editing techniques, and creating and sharing more captivating photos and blog posts. It is through this process of exploration and learning that I hope to grow as a bird enthusiast and photographer, while sharing my experience with others.
Having wrapped up my loose birding plans for the year, I am so stoked for my birding adventures. The thought of exploring diverse habitats, encountering a variety of avian species and capturing their beauty through my lens within a predetermined area is an exhilarating adventure. I know that this year will be full of new experiences, challenges and rewards as I delve deeper into the world of birding and photography. I can’t wait to immerse myself in the natural beauty that surrounds us, and to learn more about the feathered creatures that share our planet. The possibilities are endless, and the thrill of the unknown is palpable. I am ready to make the most of this new year of birding adventures!
Until next time, chase the stoke!