Day 121 - April in the Books

Saturday, April 30, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

Time is really flying now... 3 days ago I talked about impatiently waiting and now, I'm saying time is flying.  I'm like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  The truth is I am impatiently waiting while time flies if that makes sense.  April really did go fast though.  I think its partially because I spent a lot of time birding.  In fact in April I spent 78.25 hours birding.  The equivalent of just over 3 entire days--or almost 2 full work weeks for the gainfully employed.  That's about 2.5 hours each day. Which is nothing once you see what my average for May ends up being.  I bet I will easily top 100  hours for May--and I bet 150 isn't unreasonable given the amount of birding I need to do in this month.

But back to April.  I hit the ground running after the painfully slow end to winter.  It was a great month in which I added 56 new year birds to my current total of 216 species.  Here is a subtle clue--I am not the current eBird Top 100 leader in Narnia.  The truth is that I scratched a weekend trip that would have easily put me at the front of the pack--to hold off for even more bird in May.  My 56 species though in included some really great year birds.  I had 2 birds that I did not have on my previous big year attempt.  I also had 2 other birds that I rank very highly in my ranking system for birds to see this year.  Needless to say that while 56 species isn't all that impressive of a total--the quality is what matters.

April had me busy--and while I risk giving up some information about the size of my state, I will tell you that I drove as many miles in April as I had in the previous 3 months combined; and that 2,291.8 miles... Does that help rule out Rhode Island and Connecticut?  While that number seems quite large- I actually spent at least 15 minutes birding every day in April.  And most week days I spend about an hour and traveled no less than 12 miles.  I also birded most weekends, and took several day trips long distances to track down birds. At an average of about 70 miles a day, this really isn't too big of a number for most states, especially in a big year.

Perhaps the number that is most interesting and starting to grow is the distance I traveled on foot this month--27.6 miles.  While this is less than a mile a day, it is almost 1/2 of my total mileage by foot for the year.  Again, May will topple this number, as I can see 60 miles being a reasonable distance in the next 31 days.

Aprils great successes didn't come without some headaches, misses, and potential disasters.  What, a disaster?  I am missing a species that I absolutely have to get in the next 2 weeks--and that means sneaking away to find it and telling no one.  This birds is a gimme in Narnia but requires a little work to get to it.  And it's not just taking an hour out of my day to do so.  If I miss this bird, that is basically giving away a free one.  I can't let that happen.  I planned on having it wrapped up in April, but a number of things happened that made it impossible.   Sometimes you take a risk for one thing, and then risk losing the other thing all together if you catch my drift.    That one miss may not seem like a big deal, but a gimme on a big year that isn't taken is a disaster.

The misses this month included a handful of birds I should see later.  I won't waste my time chasing some one elses "rare" find, when I usually can find my own at a more convenient time and place.  There were  a few of those in April so I'm not going to dwell on them.  The bigger misses were the no less than 4 very rare birds that popped up in random places at bad times.  One was never reported and I hear it through the grape vine.  The other 3 weren't worth the risk of chasing.  I actually can't verify that any of the 4 were actually correctly ID'd as there were no photos or documentation--so it's just speculation. But 3 of those 4 I did not have on my previous year, so they could end up being quite costly...

The last week of April was a good week, and I added 5 species since my last post. I actually thought I had 2 more, but I had seen them earlier in the year, and just forgot until I looked at my list.  But my daily outings turned up Dancing Sprinter and Flocking Ornament for the year.  The ornament is interesting because they breed in Narnia but can be quite isolated.  If you miss them during migration it can be a tough find the rest of the year.  I happen to talk to a birder who said they had seen one in a strange spot--I was there so walked a short distance and was pleasantly surprised that it was indeed correct.  Other new birds included hearing a  few Vivid Jewels.  I hoped to see them, but that will come later.  I ended the month with a Slapping Migrant, a bird I also saw in my previous big year and was excited to tick off for 2016.

I did have one very frustrating species in April that I chased no less than 3 times.  I almost gave up after routing #2, but figured the 3rd try was the charm.  When you chase the same species over and over you start to wonder if you really should just walk away from it?  Is it worth the time, gas, miles, money, and stress?  Would that effort be better spent on other birds.  I know for a fact, because of the time I spent on these chases, I missed the opportunity for one of the 4 rarities that I missed in April.  That is frustrating to think about.  The chases also make me vulnerable to being figured out.  Why are you going to look for this bird again and again and again? Luckily the 3rd time was the charm and no other birders were around to see me at the chase sight yet again.  The hard part is keeping it a secret till 2017...

Aprils now in the books and as I write this on May 1st, I've already added a year bird...Time flies as I impatiently wait for the 80 or so birds I need to see in the next 30 days... and the big year rolls on...

New birds this post: 5
Year List: 216


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I'm on a mission to see as many birds as I can in 2016... within the borders of my home state. The only catch is I'm not telling anyone that I'm doing a Big Year...