It's been over 1.5 years sense I wrote my last blog post for this blog - I simply lost the passion for writing for a while. But I wanta get back into it! In 2014 I plan to blog my wild adventures. I'll start now.
Fall migration is over but fortunately wintertime is a good time to bird. I've had a few surprising things happen for my birding life this year. First, I managed to record 432 species (thus far, I may not get any more) and I am AMAZED. My best year ever, my Junior Big Year (www.juniorbigyear.blogspot.com) in 2011 I logged 437. It's unreal IMO that I came so freaking close to my "record"! I was hoping, unsure if I could do it, that I would break my total from last year, 305. Well, I smashed it! Had I known early on (say, after July) that I had a real shot at breaking my Junior Big Year record, I would have put more effort into it. A lot more effort into it. I only started having the thought after I returned from a whirl-whind and amazingly productive trip to Montana, in late August. After that, I think I sat somewhere right around 400-410. I kinda thought I had a shot at breaking 2011 but didn't give much thought to it. Another big "should have" in the life of a birder. But I had my eyes set on my favorite birding event of the year - 3 months of Hawk Watching had just begun, and I was an official volunteer counter at my local site (Rockfish Gap, in Virginia). I didn't give much thought to breaking 2011, even though I was only 25 birds away. To be honest - I didn't want to repeat fall 2011 and miss out on a lot of hawk watching as well as bear and other wildlife watching, just to "twitch" some birds, that probably weren't even lifers.
It wasn't until late-October and I had 420+ "in the bag" that I was like, "Danget, I actually got a clear line-of-vision at the record". I spent half a day (a very slow half a day at the hawk watch) number crunching in my head. "Saltmarsh Sparrow 421. Nelson's 422. I could get a Sedge Wren at Back Bay, 423. Probably can swing a Common Eider and Eurasian Wigeon, 425. Oh, do I have Orange-crowned Warbler yet? [Ten second pause] Oh danget yeah I remember that, with Vic at Back Bay." On and on. Trying. If all went right, and staying in Virginia, I thought I could hit 430-435. I knew I'd be close. And I knew that I would need to swing another trip out-of-state, to as far away as New Jersey, in order to set the record. Which never happened. So here I sit, watching the email listservs about Barnacle Goose in New Jersey, Thayer's Gull in Virginia Beach (where I was last week, just a little too early), Little Bunting in California, Rustic Bunting in Alaska, La Sagra's Flycatcher in Florida, and that Da'Gone Saltmarsh Sparrow ought to be somewhere on the VA Coast. There, if I spent a few thousand dollars, I'd have my record. But not this year. I'll have to settle for being just a few short.