Thursday, November 7, 2013

Making a Run on the Record

   My goal, as I mentioned in my last post, was 300 birds for the year.  It felt like a nice challenge considering my attempt in 2011 turned up 276 species.   I have to admit though, in the back of my mind, I wondered but didn't actually believe I would get this far. Sometime about a month ago now, I decided to fully commit to trying for the GREEN BIG YEAR RECORD.
  Jim Royer holds the record right now.  He saw an amazing 318 species in 2010!  He set up what became an amazing blog about it too. Check it out at:    It's the blog I wish I had created this year.  He highlights not only birds that he's seen, but also talks about butterflies, plants, and other aspects of natural history.  I consider myself a naturalist first, then a birder, so I love it.
  Jim sent me an email a little over a month ago and mentioned that I was beating his pace.  I was touched by his kind words and encouragement, but I didn't really think I had a shot at the record at that point.  My summer of bird finding was great, but starting work again in September meant a lot less birding time.  However, I have to admit now that my life since work started back up has been crazy.  Eat, sleep, work, bird.  That's it.  At least it sure feels that way.
  October was a fantastic month.  Are there any birder's out there that don't like October?  So many birds on the move and it's also the month where lots of rare birds start showing up.  I ended up seeing 12 new birds in October, despite the fact, that at least central coastal California has had a dismal warbler migration show this year.  Where did they all go?  This year I missed several migrant warblers, that last year were showing up literally right outside my front door.  Missing warblers in October probably means that I'll have missed them for the year.  Drat.
  Despite this, I had some good luck out over the ocean.  BULLER'S SHEARWATERS and POMARINE JAEGERS can be birds that are easily missed in a year, but I saw both in early October.  A first for me was a pod of RISSO'S DOLPHINS that I got to see from Pescadero State Beach.  So cool.  Have I mentioned how much I love living in Pescadero before?
  In mid-October, I took a weekend bike-camping trip up to Half Moon Bay to track down a couple of birds that had been seen there and to hopefully find a few of my own (as chasing birds really isn't nearly as fun as finding your own).  I lucked out and ended up finding a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW that had been seen a few days before and found a couple of CACKLING GEESE flying above the airport at the north end of town.  Yahoo, the trip was worth it!  I also birded Fitzgerald Marine Reserve for the first time on that trip.  It's one of those places that birders talk about being so great for rare birds, especially back in the day.  Well, that day there happened to be an ORCHARD ORIOLE present.  Not a new bird for the year, but a sweet bird for sure!
  Our local Sequoia Audubon Society put on a Big Sit event on October 13.  If you are not familiar with the concept, it is a fundraiser and  "competition" with other Audubon Chapters where birders spend all day in one 17 foot diameter circle and count how many species that they can see from that spot.  We racked up 99 species that day thanks to a lot of great volunteers coming out and helping.  During the event, I was able to add a SORA, PALM WARBLER, and GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE.  Alas, I missed another BALTIMORE ORIOLE that showed up while I was taking a lunch break.   Nemesis bird!
  Well, that doesn't quite catch yall all the way up, but it'll have to do for now.  More soon!

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