One of my favorite things is making lists and categorizing things. That's why I love baseball, it's all about the statistics. That is why I wanted to do a Big Year, rather than just go look at birds. I've always looked at birds and have loved photographing them for over 20 years now, but never really knew more than a handful of species names, mostly Blue Jays and and Cardinals. The idea that you could go out and make a great, big, long list of birds, seeing and identifying new ones nearly every day for one calendar year, in a wide range of habitats, is what sent me over the edge. When I saw the movie, The Big Year, I knew I had the personality traits of all three of the men depicted in the movie. I knew I would be not just a bird watcher, not just a birder, but an extreme birder, a Lister.
So, by the numbers, here is a look back at everywhere I went and everything I saw in 2012. Frustratingly, two birds appeared in Florida just after I left; both had been high on my list for getting in Florida in 2012, the Thick-billed Vireo, which I am reasonably sure I saw the previous day, and was confirmed just after I left, and the LaSagra's Flycatcher which I was two days late for in March. Drat. But time to move on, and as such, I present my 2012 statistics:
605: Total Life List, including Dusky Grouse in Montana, Roadside Hawk in Belize and Red-billed Streamertail and Jamaican Mango in Jamaica.
601: Total Species Seen and heard
596: ABA Countable Species seen and heard
547: Life birds added in 2012,(my previous Life List came from spending an evening identifying birds in photographs I had taken over the years).
17: States visited
3: Provinces visited
139: in Florida (190 for the State)
110: in Arizona (167 for the State)
93: in California
45: in Texas
20: in Alaska
12: in Nevada
5: in each of Louisiana and New Jersey
4: in Massachusetts
3: in each of Minnesota and Pennsylvania
1: in each of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri and West Virginia
147: in Ontario (235 for the Provence)
8: in Newfoundland
2: in British Columbia
45 Species of Wood Warbler,(I am not sure I knew they even existed before I began my Big Year).
38 Species of Emberizids,(This includes Sparrows, Towhees, Buntings and Juncos, and I had thought nearly every bird was just a "regular sparrow").
36 Species of Flycatcher,(I had only ever heard of the Nutting's Flycatcher from "The Big Year").
19 Species of Woodpecker,(I had only known of 3 previously).
16 Species of Owl,(I had never seen one outside a zoo prior to this year).
15 Species of Hummingbird,(I had only seen 1 in North America and 2 in Jamaica prior to 2012, but they have always been my favorite birds to watch and photograph).
21 Rodent-y Things,(see Tab above).
I also flew and drove untold thousands of miles, walked and biked hundreds miles,(probably close to a thousand), boated hundreds of miles,(and was seasick on 3 of 6 boat and ferry trips).
I don't want to think of the money I spent. So this is where I will stop.
I shall think of my favorite birds of the year, but Puffins are up there, along with Pink-footed Goose and Fork-tailed Flycatcher.
More to come...