Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Year

As many other blogs are saying, and unless you live in a cave, you know it's a new year for birding! Keeping a year list is a good way to track the birds you've seen and keeps those common birds a bit more special than usual- at least until you see them! It also makes you realize which birds have eluded you and reminds you of the dips (oh, Western Tanager, how I wish you were on my 2014 or Life List) but in the end it's always fun to compare to others! Here are some highlights from my year:

Total Species seen in 2014: 250 (Counting Italian birds)

Rarest Bird Seen (Population Wise): Red-cockaded Woodpecker or Florida Scrub-Jay, whichever is considered more rare. Both were lifers.

Florida Scrub-Jay- Merritt Island NWR, Florida.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker- Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve, NC
Rarest Bird (Locally): I didn't see any ABA rarities or megas, but I did see my fair share of uncommon birds around my part of North Carolina. White-winged Scoter, Red-necked Grebe, Dickcissel, and a late Kentucky Warbler (that I found!) were life birds and pretty uncommon around here. I also got to see a Baird's Sandpiper in South Carolina.

White-winged Scoters, badly digiscoped. Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, NC.
Red-necked Grebe- Concord Mills Wetland, NC.
Dickcissel- Union County, NC.

Total Life Birds Seen: 110 species were new to me last year. Mainly warblers, terns, shorebirds.

Best Hard-to-See Bird Seen: I think that would have to go to the Least Bitterns we saw at Montezuma NWR, New York, at the Young Birders Event. We counted 12 (!) flying around. This year my target skulkers will be Swainson's Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, and Bachman's Sparrow. Second place would be Kentucky Warbler.

Worst Rare Bird Not Found: Probably Ross's Goose or Western Tanager. For adult birders it's easy to hop in the car and drive to that easy-to-see rarity. But for a young birder with non-birder parents and sibling, it's HARD to convince them to drive anywhere to see a bird. So my two big misses were pretty disappointing.

For the goose, it was near the aforementioned Red-necked Grebe, so I was hoping to see both in the same day. I didn't have the exact address for it, so we were checking out ponds. We finally stopped at a large pond that seemed plausible, but I convinced myself it wasn't it. After finding the grebe and heading back home, it turns out it was the spot! But there are so many Ross's in NC right now I might have a second chance.

For the Western Tanager, it was reported two hours away, at Lake James State Park. I didn't have the exact address either so I didn't see it. Turns out we were on the wrong side of the lake. Oh well. I really wanted to see the WETO because it would be my last common tanager for North America (not counting Hepatic... a Hepatic in NC? Hah!) As of this post it's still continuing so hopefully I can try for a second chance.

Best Birding Trip/Adventure: Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Young Birders Event, hands down. Meeting other young birders, famed birders, and seeing some incredible birds was extremely fun. I highly recommend any young birders try for it- if I got in, you can too! Give it a shot!

2015 List as of this Post: 42 species, most recent is Red-winged Blackbird. I still have yet to do a 'real' walk but checking out some spots for ducks is always good. I got a SSV* of a Northern Pintail male in the scope preening in the sunset light. This picture really doesn't do the beauty of these ducks.

Here you can see my 2014 list. Google Docs is super helpful when you're traveling!

Happy 2015!

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