Thursday, December 25, 2008

2008: My Best Birding Year Ever (Yet?)

Well, 2008 was a heck of a year for everyone - stock markets going nuts, gas prices up and down, and a historical presidential election. For me, it was also quite active - learning I was going to be a dad was the most momentous part for me. But this is a birding blog, so 2008 was big for birding in my life. Lots of milestones - first trip to Florida for birding, first experiences in Southeast Arizona, ABA milestones of 400 and 450, and finally hitting my major goal for the year - making it to 300 on my Ohio state life list. So let's start with that.

I posted back in February, after seeing the Hoary Redpoll, that I had 14 species left before hitting 300 in Ohio, and speculated what those species most likely would be. Here's the original list:

  1. Least Flycatcher
  2. Marsh Wren
  3. Cattle Egret
  4. Franklin's Gull
  5. Eurasian Collared Dove
  6. Golden Eagle
  7. Little Gull
  8. Connecticut Warbler
  9. Clay Colored Sparrow
  10. Least Bittern
  11. Chuck-wills-widow
  12. Marbled Godwit
  13. Golden-winged Warbler
  14. Pomarine Jaegar
And here's the list of what I actually saw:

  1. Golden Eagle, March 16
  2. Red-necked Grebe, March 22
  3. Least Flycatcher, May 6
  4. Chuck-will's-widow, June 7
  5. Black Rail, June 9
  6. Common Raven, July 12
  7. Upland Sandpiper, July 12
  8. Western Meadowlark, July 19
  9. Clay-colored Sparrow, July 19
  10. Marsh Wren, July 19
  11. Marbled Godwit, August 25
  12. Wood Stork, August 27
  13. Franklin's Gull, October 18
  14. White-winged Crossbill, December 13
I only saw half of the birds I thought I would see. Four of the birds are really rare for Ohio: Black Rail, White-winged Crossbill, Wood Stork, and Common Raven.

I also added a ton of birds to my life list - 135 ABA area birds and 137 in total (two exotic birds are state countable but were not on the ABA list when I saw them). My year list for the ABA region was the best ever - 412. My Ohio list was not as good as last year, since I never made it up to the Lake Erie marshes for spring migration, but still a respectable 255 (I also had 155 species in Florida and 131 in Arizona!).

My big challenge for next year is to balance fatherhood with birding. I suspect I won't hit 255 birds in Ohio next year, but having hit the magic number of 300, I don't feel I have to get out all the time either. I think my theme for this next year is to just see what I can see, birding serendipitously as I am out and about with a new baby. I will probably have some good opportunities to sneak off now and then when we take the baby on family visits, so we'll see what happens!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Did It!!!!

May I present Ohio Bird 300:

White-winged Crossbill! After three unsuccessful tries at this species, I finally found this stunning male bird at Oak Hill Cemetery, located south of Upper Sandusky. We waited for about an hour before it showed up, calling as it flew. Once it started foraging in the hemlock, however, it clammed up, emitting not a sound. We speculated that if there were other crossbills around, it would be calling. Hitting 300 in Ohio was my goal for the year. Next week, I will post an end of year roundup on what has been the best birding year of my life (so far!).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Crossing fingers for 300

I'm going birding on Saturday with the Avids. Our big goal is to get to experience the White-winged Crossbill irruption that is going on across Ohio right now. If we are successful, then I'll hit 300 birds for Ohio. Depending on where else we go, there's a decent chance to go over 300 birds, since there are still reports of Pomarine Jaegers and Black-headed Gulls, and there's always a chance for Little Gull. The Harlequin Duck that was up in Cleveland was unfortunately shot by a hunter, though.

We'll see what happens, and I'll report back.