2014 – Year in Review

It was the most challenging year we have lived through to date.  An unrelenting winter, homeownership, and overall life instability really took us to the breaking point.  In between all of this madness, we also had some unbelievable outdoor moments mixed in.  Let’s review, shall we?

winterWinter – Enough is Enough

Large driveway + Lots of Snow = Exhaustion.

With no money to purchase a snow blower to make life a little easier, we had to resort to shoveling last winter.  As foot after foot fell (particularly in February), I was wondering if it would ever stop!  With a very small property, we actully ran out of places to put it, and I was simply just throwing it in my driveway.  While the snow lead to future home related problems within the year (more on that later), the snow and overall bleak forecast had us spending more time outdoors during the winter months than ever before.

Short-eared Owls
Short-eared Owls

Owls, Owls, Owls!

January 1st brought us our first owl sighting of the year in the form of a great horned owl.  By the end of February, we had tallied three great horned owls, three snowy owls and eight short eared owls.

The snowy owl invasion was probably the most exciting part in early 2014.  It seemed like no matter where we went in the winter, there was a good likelihood a snowy wasn’t too far away.

However, the most memorable was the short-eared owl display at the Shawangunk Grasslands.  Right before sunset on a very cold February day, we snowshoed to a wildlife blind on the property and watched a spectacle we’ve never seen before.  I’m not even going to try and describe the event, but the picture above showcases a glimpse of the beautiful display they put on.

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

 Cranes in the Hudson Valley?

This sighting takes the cake.  We received a message on one of the local groups that a pair of Sandhill Cranes were spotted not far from our home, so we decided to investigate.

Looking at my reference guides, cranes aren’t even shown as passing through New York, so we took the opportunity to add an uncommon visitor to our life list.

We were not disappointed, as we saw the pair not far from the road and we got excellent looks.  Just an ordinary day with an extraordinary sighting, no big deal. 😛

Canada Warbler (male)
Canada Warbler (male)

May Migration & Mr. 200

It was another eventful and exhausting spring migration for us again.  Nine straight days and three different states is the most comprehensive trek I have done to date.  My goal was to hit 200 unique species for my life list.

By the end of the marathon, I topped out at a total of 210, way better than I could have expected.  The bird that got to be ‘Mr. 200’ was the Canada Warbler.

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

West Coast Road Trip

Here’s a photo collection I never got around to!  We went out to Washington state in the summer for a wedding, and the remaining days were used to look for new wildlife.

There were plenty of unique parks and preserves to visit, and we scoped out as many as we could.  No matter where we went, Mount Rainier was always in the background somewhere.  Here’s hoping for a return trip sooner rather than later!


Before and After...

Before and After…

Broken Home

Winter’s fury in 2014 left its mark on our home in the form of a badly damaged porch and patio area.

Once repairs began, many unseen problems started to show themselves, making us dig deep and run out of money.  Suddenly, I was doing much of the work, and I had no previous experience in this.

After months and months of hard labor (and help from friends and family), we were able to complete the project.  The porch had a new roof, new wood, new siding, new doors, and new windows, while the outside of the porch had new drainage, a new concrete retaining wall and a new concrete patio.  The entire project is still far from done, but much of the essential stuff was completed.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon

The Beachmaster

A memorable moment at Milford Point in Connecticut, we encountered a Peregrine Falcon sitting on the beach surveying his potential meals.

He sat there for quite some time, so I made myself comfortable by setting up our scope and laying on the beach taking shot after shot of its behavior.  Eventually, it flew off to look for a new spot to survey, but for nearly an hour, we got to watch him sitting on the same ground as us.  Truly a unique experience.

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