OntBirds to the rescue again. Could I have done a Big Year without those daily E-mails? Could anyone do a Big Year without Bird Alerts? The Internet is alive with alerts from OntBirds, E-Bird, FLARBA and NARBA, to mention only a handful. Back in 1998 when Sandy Komito, Greg Miller and Al Levantin did their Big Year, one would have to call up NARBA and give a password, such as "Great Gary Owl," in order to gain access to the "secret" list of rare bird alerts. Now even a no-nothing, first-year birder like me can build up a great, big list by doing nothing more than checking their In-box. Oh and driving, flying and walking thousands of miles, non-stop for 12 months.
The Eurasian Wigeon was the first bird of my eleventh month of non-stop madness. I ran into another birder early this morning at Whitby's Thickson Point, who was also searching for the wigeon. We were seeing Brant, and American Wigeon, mergansers and even a Tundra Swan, but no Eurasian Wigeon.
As I was shivering in the "colder by the lake," chill of Thickson Point, trying not to shiver my way off the edge of the cliff face, Glenn Coady ambled up, hoping the Eurasian Wigeon might be close enough to be seen from his backyard, so he could add it to his ever-growing yard list.
As he and the other gentleman,(naturally, I forgot his name), began chatting about hawk watches, I trudged down the narrow path, a foot from the edge of oblivion, and closer to a whole lot of duck-like birds. I set up my scope, not too close to the edge, and scanned the shallow pools close to the rocky outcropping. Amazingly, I found the quite beautiful Eurasian Wigeon on my first look. That nearly never happens. I watched it for a couple of minutes and waved back to let the other guys know I could see it from my vantage point and they came closer to get a better look with me.
Just 22 more species to get to my goal of 572 and match Roger Tory Peterson's "Wild America" Big Year, and 50 more birds for 600. But I still have miles to fly and drive before I rest, and only 56 days left in 2012 in which to see them all.
Tick - Tick - Tick...