When I was home in Rhode Island over the Christmas break, I didn't have time to break out the binoculars, what with all the feasting and the hugging. But I did peer out windows every so often. Several mornings I woke at my mother-in-law's home in Johnston in time to watch a handsome pair of red-tails catching thermals over the woods behind the house. From my own mother's home in Woonsocket, I peered out the back window at our neighbor's massive and gorgeous house, noting several new stone gargoyles atop the chimneys. PSYCH! They turned out to be several of the turkey vultures my mom has been seeing in fair number since shortly before Thanksgiving. I do not have memories of these birds in my neighborhood from when I was a child, and they are so distinct and somewhat ominous that I'm sure I would have noticed. What brings them here this year, and how long will they stay? I also saw a great murder of crows fly over around dusk, but that's nothing new. They hang out in the bare trees at nearby Cold Spring Park until it's time to mass-move to their nighttime haunt.
As the year draws to a close, I realize I will really miss 2008. What a wonderful year it was. I'm compiling a list of all the new birds I saw this year; I hope to post it soon. But 2009 brings its own blessings and adventures, and I welcome them all.