Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 2, 2011

The new year has arrived and I am adjusting to not being in a big year mode. Many people have asked me this past month what I am going to do with all my "free time" now that I won't be birdwatching non-stop. I have plenty of backlogged projects such as cutting firewood with my father-in-law for next winter's use plus I plan to begin to learn how to play the oboe in 2011. The photo above I took in North Dakota of a female downy woodpecker.

Today's entry is the beginning of my summing up process about this amazingly wonderful big birding year that I have just completed. It will take a few entries to cover the topics starting with some review of the "numbers".

One question I get often is how many days have I birded in 2010. One way to answer that is to figure out how many nites I spent at home. From January thru June, I was home only 20 nites, and from mid February until early May I did not come home once. From July thru September I was home just 21 nites, but the last 3 months of the year found me home a total of 47 nites. Another 10 nites I was in Italy which meant I was not birding those days. I did do some birding while at home, and made a 1 day trip down to the Everglades in August to see 3 flamingos. Also, some of my days not home were taken up flying places. As a result, I would say that I was out in the field birding about 250-260 days in 2010.

As the right hand side of the blog shows, I walked 332 miles which is fewer than I thought would have been the case. I drove 65,900 miles and flew 81,900 with the majority of the flying miles happening in the 2nd half of the year when I began to chase around the country looking for the many rarities that came to the lower 48 states in the fall. Also, the miles flown do not include my vacation to Italy, or my trip to Columbia, MO in late December.

My expenses for all this traveling around break down as follows:

Airfare: $6,000
Car rental: $3,500
Gas and oil changes: $9,000
New tires for my wife's truck: $700
Gear (camping, etc): $800
Pelagic trip fees, etc: $4,000
Lodging: $16,000

Total: $40,000

I did not put food costs in the total because I concluded that I spent about the same amount as I would have if I had been home eating plus my normal going out to eat budget with my wife during the year. The airfare and lodging amounts would have been higher but I was able to use some frequent flyer miles (200,000 on American built up prior to the big year), and frequent lodger points to get some free tickets and nites.

Finally, chasing around the country in November and December to see the last 16 birds on the list cost about $5,000 of the year total. I will talk about "birding vs chasing" in my next post. Stay tuned!

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