Day 152 - 300th Species

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-


 A major milestone in my 2016 secret big year, and I got there quick. Quicker than I anticipated, and quicker than my previous big year. I planned on a June tick for #300, but wasn't quite sure exactly when or where--or what it would be. What I didn't expect was for the dominoes to fall so quickly and 300 to come when it did. I actually started writing this while I was sitting on 292 year birds and with 8 days left in May. The thought crossed my mind that if I simply add 1 species each day for the next 8 days, I would hit 300 on May 31st.

So what follows is the final week of May 2016, and each bird that led up to 300...

On the 24th I noticed that a rarity that popped up over the weekend had been seen the previous morning again and by a multitude of birders--yet had gone unreported to the general public.  I surely would have chased had I known it was still there.  I threw caution to the wind and went for it.  I made a stop en route to try my 2nd attempt at a bird I missed last week--I struck out again leaving me anxious about the chase.  When I arrived at Telmar River the wind was whipping up, and in a matter of minutes dust was blowing. I couldn't hear anything and the dust made looking around awful. To make matters more complicated I ran into someone I knew and they knew why I was there.

Luckily they aren't a risk for blowing my secret.  I drove the Telmar and saw quite a few other birds as the winds slowed and rain subsided.  I headed back to look for the chase bird.  I had all but given up and was pishing when I looked up and noticed the lovely Septentrional Triller sitting a few feet above me checking out the noise.  Check! #293 and a good bird for my big year.  I had one on my previous year and had already missed one this spring.  There likely wouldn't be another chance so getting this bird was a huge win.

The following day #294 called its way on to my year list.  A couple single call notes from a Solo Thief left me itching to hear more, but given that it took till August on my previous Big Year to snag one, I was happy to have it out of the way.  I should have a few more as the year continues, but as I've learned nothing is guaranteed, so 1 now is better than none later!

#295 might actually change.  I heard a bird this week that I couldn't identify.  This drives me crazy.  I heard a bird singing and knew it wasn't a familiar song.  I knew the type of song belonged to a certain family of birds but there was not a single species I could connect it too.  Even as I write this I am still stumped.  I am going to seek out an expert or two and see if they can help.  My hope is that I will be able to go back and add this in.  Until then bird number two-hundred and ninety-five for 2016 was an expected Deliberate Barreler.  I say expected as they have been a mainstay in Narnia the past few years after more than a 20 years of scant and questionable sightings.  In fact I missed this barreled on my previous big year despite looking several times.  This morning I headed to the nearest known location and set out to find one.  My wait was only a few minutes before I spotted the bird and was able to add it to my list.  I won't eBird this one till later this year simply because someone else will report it any day now.  They can have the accolades, while I enjoy the find!

A few hours later I was out checking a local forest when some movement from a bush pile caught my eye.  At first I dismissed the bird on the twigs as a usual suspect.  But something was off so I stared and was amazed at what I saw looking back at me.  Bird #296 for the year was a Temperate Overseer and it was totally unexpected.  I was pretty far off so started getting closer but my presence didn't co-mingle well with the bird--and well, it didn't stay put.  This was a good find for my year and one I almost looked right past.  One thing every birder should always work on is giving even the most common expected birds a second glance.  You never know what you might find--or miss if you don't.

As Memorial Day weekend hit I had it all planned out.  I would see A, B, and C and be sitting at 299 by Memorial Day.  That would give me 2 days to track down #300 before the end of May and hit a major milestone for the year.  It's funny how when you plan things they don't come to fruition some times.  A bit a of a drive had me coming up empty handed on Bird A.  That was okay, it had shown up during the week and wasn't expected. Missing it doesn't help, but it's not the end of the world.  Bird B however stings.  It is a MUST GET.  And normally a sure thing at Billabong Beach River Forest and Wetlands (Say that 3 times fast). I spent nearly 2 hours in search and came up empty handed.  The habitat was trash this year and even though I normally can find Bird B with ease it didn't happen.  I now have the tough decision of returning one night or morning in the next couple weeks, or waiting till the fall and testing my luck... It also leaves me another short of my goal.  Bird C however was exactly where it was supposed to be and I had added #297 to my year list with little fan fare in a tiny city park.  The Typical Iridescent had eluded me on 3 previous occasions this year, but I finally tracked one down to at least go one for three on the weekend.

What a precarious place to be in though.  I thought I'd be at two hundred and ninety-nine, when instead I am sitting two short.  It left me needing 3 year birds to reach 300 before the end of May instead of 1.  This was kind of a nonsensical goal. There was no rhyme, reason, or need.  I had already ticked past 290 which was where I needed to be.  Just getting so close made it seem like something to get excited about though.

On Memorial Day I knew there were 2 potential year birds I could pick up.  I drove through a "canyon" close to the city and listened as I went, hoping I might hear something that piqued my interest.  Nothing.  After stopping and setting out on foot I hadn't made it a couple hundred feet when I heard the familiar whining of a Fiery Flitter. Bird #298 out of the way and almost too easy...

What could be easier though was the quick flash out the corner of my eye--then another.  I heard the notes flying out of the woods and knew that I had just ticked off #299 for the year with a Coastal Maniac. Way. Too. Easy. I was almost in disbelief that I had added both of the birds I was hoping for in less than a minute.  That was it, there were no more new birds to be had in this particular spot as I had cleaned up the few species I was missing.  And now I was really one away from 300.

With Memorial Day weekend coming to an end and one day left in May, I was also left with a decision to make if I wanted to hit 300.  There was the option to take Tuesday and bolt back to Billabong Beach River Forest and Wetlands.  I could certainly put forth a better effort in the area and track down my missing need.  I might also come across something rare.  But this would be another day spent in the outlands of Narnia not telling a soul.  I could also stay close to home and risk trying to pick up 1 of 3 possible birds I know are around and findable.  The three will all be seen at some point in the coming month, but I could put forth the effort to nail one down for May and this utterly ridiculous chase I've succumb to.

I decided to see how the day started and make a decision for an afternoon or early evening departure.  But I never had to make the decision, a rather unceremonious flyover mid-morning and I had my 300th species...

New birds this post: 7
Year List: 299


Next Post

Previous Post

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...