Sunday, January 1, 2017

Looking Back at a Smaller Big Year

Big Years don't have to be that BIG.  I know, I've never done one THAT BIG.  Others have and I congratulate them on their amazing accomplishments in both 2016 and years past.  But I write for the "every birder" those of us who just want to bird but like to have goals too.  No Big Year records, but personal records and challenges. My goal back in 2012 was to see as many species as was possible given my full-time work, nearly nonexistent budget and absolutely no previous birding experience and I saw 600 species,(596 ABA).

In 2012 I birded both where the travel took me and everywhere else I had the time and money to sneak away to, including Alaska.  In 2016 my goals were a little more modest.  A Big Year, but with limits.  I wanted to see if, with a full-time job that including long hours and endless travel, I could still manage to see a lot of birds.  But not just lots of birds, to go birding every day and also contribute my birding efforts to that of eBird and submit at least one checklist every day of the year and finish in the top 100 for both the ABA Area and North America, since we spent 10 days in Panama back in January.

And I think I did all that.  I submitted 483 complete checklists in the ABA Area for 483 species, good for 79th place on the ABA area eBird List.  Overall I logged 665 species in North America, which includes birding in Canada, the Lower 48 US states and Panama, and ranked me in 68th position overall.  I also completed all 12 eBird monthly challenges and perhaps will finally win the coveted binoculars for submitting at least 3 checklists most days in December,(update: I did not).  So, goals for 2017?  I'll keep it simple.  LIFERS!  My ABA List grew from about 30 to 596 in 2012.

In the 4 years since then, I have added 59 ABA species.  This year was pretty good, as I added 13 new birds from Z to A, starting with the Code 5 Zenaida Dove in Florida last February to the, also Code 5, Amazon Kingfisher last week in Texas.  In between there were the Wandering Tattler, Cassin's Finch, California Gnatcatcher and Scaly-breasted Munia in California; Mississippi Kite and Tropical Parula in Texas; Clarke's Nutcracker in Colorado; Flame-colored Tanager in Arizona; Common Ringed Plover and Smith's Longspur in, of all places, Ontario and a Seaside Sparrow in Louisiana.

And I can't forget to mention that Sue with all the Lifers she added in Panama, Florida, Texas, Louisiana and here in Ontario, soared past me on our friendly Life List Competition and now leads the race 951 to 939.  Last year I just wanted to see as big a variety of birds as possible; this year I shall scale back and use my time wisely to see if I can add 10-20 new Lifers as I head toward 700 for the ABA and perhaps pass 951 on the way to my first 1000 for my World Life List.  I will also endeavour to complete eBirds challenge to submit at least one checklist each day of 2017, a new contest that would have been nice in 2016 when I did exactly that... Grrrrr!!!!

With the new year beginning, I shall continue my older blog, which I abandoned to write my Birds and Blue Jays Big Year blog:

Thanks to all those who, with much Bigger Big Year Blogs to follow, took the time to enjoy my limited adventures.  I hope other birders are inspired to take up their own personal challenges, even if North American Big Years are, at least for now, still out of reach.  Birding is amazing, adventurous, competitive, gives nerds like me an opportunity to socialize with people I can actually feel comfortable around, and above all, just plain fun.

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