Thursday, February 11, 2010

End of 6th week

Today is Thursday Feb. 11, the end of the 6th week of this big year travel adventure. I have been home now for a couple of days recharging my batteries for the next segment of this adventure. I get asked often how is it going so far, being away from home almost 100% of the time. My answer is that while my days seem fuller and more intense than normal, I am having a good time. The birding has generally been very enjoyable, altho' there is a bit of a "triage" feel about it at times. By that I mean since seeing as many species as possible is part of the year's agenda, there are times when it would be nice to just do some birding wherever I happen to be. Instead I decide to move on to a new location in search of a species that I have not seen yet this year, and need to find now as opposed to later in the year.

So how has that strategy worked so far? Well, I mentioned earlier in the blog process that one key book I have used to construct the schedule of my big year of birding is titled "Birdfinder: A Birder's Guide to Planning North American Trips". Using that book as a reference point, I would say that after seeing 288 species in the first 6 weeks, I am pretty much on track for hitting my respectable year number of 600 birds.

I have also seen some birds that I would never have counted on finding. These include the bare-throated tiger-heron, the northern wheatear, barnacle goose, La Sagra's flycatcher, and red-footed booby. Also the rufous-backed robin and the northern jacana while generally seen each year are certainly not birds you would automatically expect to find during a big year.

On the other hand, 2 of my misses so far include the amazon kingfisher that showed up in Laredo, Tx for a couple of weeks and the various ivory gulls sighted, mostly up in New England plus one all the way down in Georgia that died from a predator attack injury. These are not birds you would normally count on seeing in the lower 48 states. Misses of expected birds so far include the great gray owl, king eider and common redpoll. Again these birds take some hunting to see, but with effort in the right season and place a birder should find them. Fortunately I still can track them down either in the next few weeks or late in the year. All in all on the bird count front I think things are going well.

As for all the travel miles (over 10,000 both driving and flying), I am looking forward to getting into my tacoma pick-up truck and driving most of the rest of this big year in my own vehicle. I have also had some good food experiences so far, including the great pizza made at Pizzeria Bianco, but I have only just started to tap into the places I am looking forward to eating at over the next several months. Finally, the same is true for all the friends and family that I will be seeing over the next few months. In March my wife will be joining me for the 1st time during this year for a week of friends and birding in Texas.

So tomorrow I head off to Hatteras, NC for 2 days of pelagic birding on a boat that travels out towards the gulf stream off the outer banks of North Carolina. The captain and bird guide is Brian Patteson who has been leading trips to see seabirds for many years now. This will be at least my 10th trip out with him. There are several birds on the target list including the great skua and dovekies. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Bon Voyage, my friend. May the mighty waters present you with the species you seek. It has been exhilirating keeping up with you- from the comfort and stillness of my computer chair (not one mile logged). I appreciated your discussion of the "triage" element of the experience. Luckily, you know how to maintain balance...