Tuesday, December 24, 2013

And Then There Was Only One Week Left

It is Christmas eve afternoon and all thru the house.....In 2010 during my lower 48 big year I was home today getting ready to spend Christmas day with my family.  This year I am doing the same, and since I was in town this past Sunday, I also was able to join my friends Pam and Perry who walk our property as part of their annual CBC day.  It was unusually warm--record setting warm--here in Chapel Hill.  We really had a pretty slow day bird wise until the very end of the 3 hour tour thru the 230 acres we live on.  We picked up a small mixed feeding flock, and Perry found a barred owl roosting in a pine tree.  I did not have my camera with me, so instead I have posted a photo of a barred owl that I took in Florida back in 2010 (click on photo to enlarge).

With just one week to go in 2013, a short update on the big year birders seemed appropriate.  Ron Furnish has not posted anything since last week's update, but I did see that he entered on the ABA listing central site his year total of 687.  Neil Hayward did make it to Homer, AK where on the 18th he saw a rustic bunting.  He has been home since waiting for another rarity to be found that he might be able to chase.  He briefly thought one had been seen in British Columbia--a possible Eurasian Hobby--but it was decided that it was the prairie race of merlin.  His year total is at 745 + 3 provisionals, and he also has seen an aplomado falcon that he might still add to his list.

The big news for this post is the outstanding job turned in so far in December by Jay Lehman.  As I have pointed out in earlier posts, Jay's big year has developed unlike any of the other highly successful big year birder's efforts.  All those in the 700+ group have started very fast, and generally have seen at least 600 different species by June 1.  Jay started more slowly, and by June 1 his year total was only at 522.  As a result, I suggested in an earlier post that he was the tortoise as compared to Neil's hare.

Jay has proven that an accomplished birder with his kind of experience and knowledge can definitely overcome a slow start.  Through his persistence and diligence Jay is now at 730 + 2 provisionals.  In December so far he has added 25 new birds to his list as he has sought out, mostly in Arizona, many code #1 and #2 birds that were not yet on his list.  In comparison in December Sandy Komito (748) saw only 3 new birds; John Vanderpoel found only 10 more; Bob Ake saw 8 new birds; Lynn Barber also added 8 new species; and Neil so far has seen 8 new birds.  Kudos to Jay for delivering such a strong effort this month.

After this date in their respective big years, Sandy saw 1 new bird; John 3; Bob 1; and Lynn 1.  Who knows what the next 7 days might bring in the way of rarities, but if the weather cooperates, both Neil and Jay are planning to go out of Hatteras, NC with Brian Patteson on Saturday the 28th in hopes of seeing a great skua.  For Neil, depending on what happens with his provisional birds, a great skua would give him the potential to set a new full ABA area big year record.  For Jay, it definitely would tie him for 4th place on the full ABA area big year list and his provisionals give him the potential to be alone in the 4th spot. Stay tuned!

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