BIG YEAR – January 23, 2013 to January 22, 2014 499 SPECIES

I really never started out to do a big year but for some reason I knew this was the right time to try, I may never have another year like this.
I thought it would be easy and that I had a chance at 600 but soon realized it would be impossible, while trying to hold down a full time job.

It’s been a crazy year from the first bird I counted a Golden-crowned Sparrow to the last a Wilson’s Plover and I won’t soon forget.

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499

With trips to Alaska, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Québec, California, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Florida. Well over 20,000km flown, 12 airports, 26 flights and 16,000 km driven. I can’t imagine trying to do this full time. Not sure how many times in airports I forgot something in my pockets or my hat on, while going through security. I also remember some of the strange looks from customs agents when they asked me what the reason for my trip was.

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Its also about good friends wherever they may be in the world. We all share one common passion.

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Well My year started late, because of my angio-plasty, I could not get travel insurance or doctors ok before January 21. That’s the day I thought to myself, I may not ever get the chance to do this again. So off I went to Vancouver (arriving on the 23rd, and never stopped (except for when I had to work). As hard as I tried in Florida this past week I just could not get to and over the 500 mark. I tried hard, driving over 1900 miles in 7 days but the birds just wouldn’t co-operate. All I needed was any of the following to hit 500, Backman’s Sparrow, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, or White-crowned Pigeon. I covered a lot of territory on foot during the past week. Got up close and personal to many birds.

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So here it is, I officially saw 499 birds in my big year, not a world record for sure. But I did work a full time job at the same time.
I could have easily added a few species to help me get over 500 and who would’ve known, I would’ve that’s who, you must stay honest or it means nothing.
I also could have counted birds I’d heard and not seen but when I started this I said I would only count the birds I’d seen.

So many great life birds sightings, this year, including:
Red-flanked Bluetail, Ivory Gull, Ross’s Gull, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Paraque’s, Olive-backed Pipit, Hawfinch, Lesser and Greater Prairie Chicken, Mountain Plover, Garganey, Northern Lapwing, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Crested, Least and Parakeet Auklets, to name a few. All their images can be seen in various threads in my blog.

One of my favourite birds this year was, the Lesser Prairie Chicken, listening to their gobbling, bubbling sounds and the stamping of their feet, as they danced on lek’s, is something I will always remember.

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The climb up to see the Bristle-thighed Curlew was also special. Without modern médicine, I doubt I would have been able to make that climb. When you hear and see the bird of your quest, all other thoughts are forgotten.

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Unless you have this passion, you can never really know, what drives us and how it feels to see a new bird or an old one for that matter.

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Thanks to all the people who helped me this year, first of all my lovely wife, Sue. She has never shared my passion for birds but has never stood in my way of chasing them. Love ya.

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I may never get the chance to do another big year but I’ll always keep looking at nature…

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This year Neil Hayward broke Sandy Kumito’s record of 745+3 ABA sightings in 1 year. Neil Hayward saw an amazing 747 ABA AREA SPECIES + 3 provisionals.

How much travel would be involved in trying to break Sandy Komito’s record of 745+3, set in 1998? How hectic would that be? With 2013 winding down, Neil Hayward is at 744+3, followed by Jay Lehman at 719+2.

You can view their results:
Neil Hayward: http://accidentalbigyear2013.blogspot.ca/
Jay Lehman: http://jaysbigyear2013.blogspot.ca/

When looking through their blogs, you can see the amount of travel and money required to get anywhere near the record but it really doesn’t matter. Its the passion that drives people to see as many birds in one year as they can.

Below are the birds I saw, click on them to see them larger.

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I think back to the birds I missed, some easy and some tough…maybe if I’d had a bit of luck who knows where I would have ended up……lolol

Ciao for now…………..

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3 Responses to BIG YEAR – January 23, 2013 to January 22, 2014 499 SPECIES

  1. Cheryl says:

    Paul, I’m sorry that in the end Florida let you down – you were so close. I’m totally impressed with your drive and passion. It must have been a thrilling (and exhausting!) journey. 498 sounds amazing to me 🙂

  2. lololol…Cheryl in the end I should have stayed an extra day, I managed the Bullocks Oriole after leaving Paynes Prairie but Three Lakes WMA was the killer, so many trees marked as nesting trees. Not a single Red-cockaded Woodpecker around and not a thing flying, also the prairie grasses weren’t productive for Sparrows. Maybe if I’d had an extra day…..who knows

  3. Rick Poulin says:

    Awesome year Paul, thanks for including me in some of the highlights. Well done!

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