Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Breaking Down The Big Year

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...

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on finishing the year with such a nice sized list. I don't think anyone can call you a rookie now.
    Thanks for blogging about your year-long, head-long dive into birding, I've enjoyed every post. I'm also very interested to know if you made it to the top 10 Big Year birders on the ABA.

    I know what you mean about having a "listing brain", I'm the same way. One day I'll do a Big Year, I just have to wait for the funds to roll in. I am blogging about a Not-So-Big Year that I'm doing this year though, so that should be good practice at least.

    If/when you do another Big Year, keep you eyes on the record, nothing's impossible. Of course, I'll want to read about your progress for the whole year when you do do it :).