Monday, 30 April 2012

From Budgerigars to a Brant: One Memorable Month

30 days and 103 new birds.  I'm no expert, but for me that was a good month.  January was the last month I had over a hundred birds, with 121, but that was including a trip to California, when every bird was a new bird.  April started in Florida and saw travels to Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, New Hampshire, Algonquin Park in northern Ontario and a return to Florida.  It was a great adventure.  Lots of travel, long drives, gallons of coffee, perhaps a little too much fast food, sleeping in the car, trying to concentrate on work at the ball park or at our Minor League teams, at times terrible back pain, and a very bad case of binocular tendinitis in my right elbow.

I have had bouts of tendinitis twice previously in the past and the last time was so bad I could hardly lift anything heavier than a book.  Thankfully this case has not put me out of action.  I have to take plenty of Advil, and am glad I bought lightweight binoculars.  I wonder if there are other birders out there that have suffered the same injury.

Today I arrived at the Oshawa Second Marsh too late in the morning to catch the Little Gulls before they headed out to the lake to fish for the day, but was lucky enough to have other birders around and one of them spotted a Brant way out in the marsh, amongst a few Canada Geese.  I brought my scope along and was able to spy the smaller goose right next to the Canada Geese.  Distinct difference as the Brant, besides being smaller, has a solid midnight blue neck, and it turned just enough so I could a bit of the white neck ring.

The Brant was bird 340 for my 2012 Big Year.  When I began there was no talk of trips to Arizona, Alaska, or South Texas, and I was shooting for 300 as a novice birder.  My trip to California was scheduled before I even knew about Big Years, but once I did decide to do one, Sue and I did talk of going to Point Pelee for warblers and Newfoundland for seabirds, but now I have booked a week in Alaska in early June, Vancouver for work in mid June and south Texas later in June after another brief work trip to West Virginia.

I don't know if I ever expected this to become such a full out quest.  It's not quite spiralling out of control,(Sue would kill me if it did), as I don't have the time or money to do a full out Big Year.  The first 4 months of 2012 have been nearly exhausting, and I now have a much greater appreciation for what men and women like Sandy Komito, Lynn Barber and John Vanderpoel must have gone through in their full out Big Years, each seeing over 720 birds in a single year.

I am not sure if I am crazy or obsessed.  Sue would say I am both and more.  Perhaps I am.  But I have had more fun and more adventures in 4 months than I could have imagined.

8 more months?  Bring it on!


  1. Hey Robert, glad you're still sticking at it! I know just how you feel about "spiraling out of control" as I suddenly found myself trying to set a personal best month and spent lots of April time birding. I'm glad April only had 30 days as it was begining to get an obsession! Anyway, I managed 132 species for Hernando County (137 for the State) so I'm pleased with that! Hope May is good for you, and watch that elbow! :)

  2. Thanks for checking in. The elbow is getting better and your month was pretty impressive. My Florida list for 2012 is 147, most of them in March. I don't keep track of all the birds for each month, just the new ones.

    Take care!