Day 213 - July in the Books

Sunday, July 31, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

The summer giveth, the summer taketh away.  July came and went without a single report of anything noteworthy for me to chase.  No birder in Narnia found anything big this month, or if they did, they didn't share.  This is a rather spectacular happening.  I fully expected something huge to get reported especially in the last couple weeks--something to help  build up the list.  But alas, nada.  July is the beginning of fall migration and usually the first big rarities start popping up--looking back I can't remember a year where something really great hasn't shown up.  I'm sure there have been doldrum July's like this, but it is a bit disappointing that July 2016 was one of them.

After my big week mid month things slowed down again.  Not for lack of trying though.  I again hit the hills in anticipation of tracking down some of the 3 species I felt were still possible.  One morning I put over 5 miles in on foot in search of just one bird.  This was try number 3 this summer, and again I swung and missed.  During the course of my search I could hear the distant cacophony of call from an Elevated Reviewer though--this was another one of the 3 so all was not lost.  I had actually made 5 trips for that species this summer, but figured I would have one easy in September.  Now I just need a photo, and I'll be good to go.

The last few days of the month I decided it was do or die time for one species that if I didn't get now I might end up missing all together.  This species was one that typically I have seen 4-5 times but this point in the year.  But this year one of my favorite locations to look was inaccessible when the birds are easiest to find and ID.  That hadn't stopped me from checking for them every chance I got.  The lack of reports by others made it near impossible to chase so it was going to be either sheer luck, or just a miss.

Someone had sent me a photo the previous week asking for help ID'ing a bird--it was from the location I couldn't access earlier in the year, so I decided to take a drive and see what I could find.  Almost immediately the first stop I made there were birds to look at.  I took my time checking for the missing species but couldn't find one so I moved on.  As I rounded a bend I looked to my left and there were even more birds than my previous stop and some were just  a few feet away for easy viewing.  As I stopped my car and put my binoculars up to look at the first bird I saw I almost had to shake my head--it was my first Overlooked Sweeper of the year.  Almost too easy.  I had left my camera at home but managed to digiscope a few shots just to make sure I had them.  And I didn't something I normally don't do--I didn't eBird it.

Why?  There are two reasons--one is selfish, the other is strategic.  Since I know there haven't been many seen this year, I didn't want to give any other big year birder a freebie.  I've done plenty of that, and this one I was going to keep.  Yes, that is my selfish reason--I am 99.99% of the time selfless in sharing what I find, but I figured this would be a secret until the end of the year.  The more strategic reason would be the possible giving away in eBird for any locals who might be following the blog. That's it.

With the sweeper swept away I headed to a nearby pond to see if any shorebirds were around--there weren't any.  But a couple birds flew in and I looked at them with intrigue.  I realized pretty quickly that one was unlike the other and looking closely it appeared I had a a Tropical Thinker--mark that one off the list as yet another year bird! I had added 2 year birds in one day, something that from here on out won't be all that common.

After that the new birds dried up and July came to a close. It had not been quite the month I expected with only 8 new year birds added. This was a few less than I had hoped and I was still missing a few birds.  I basically have come to terms with the fact there will be 3 birds I won't see this year that I saw in my previous big year--that I had fully expected to have in 2016.  When you are doing the math and trying to plan a year like this, these are the birds that hurt the most.  There is no way to make up for targets that seem unmissable.

I cute down my driving just a little for July, keeping it under 2,000 miles.  I kept my numbers on foot up, putting on over 28 miles for the month.  And I spent just under 100 hours looking for birds.  I have mixed feeling for how August will be as of right now.  I certainly would love to add 10 more species but am not sure how doable that is given what I've already seen and what I know will be showing up.  Migration certainly will be picking up and that brings a potential abundance of possibilities.  I think September is going to be the month where I do the most damage though, and while I mentioned 10 new birds, I am guessing 5 is more reasonable for the coming 31 days...

New birds this post: 3
Year List: 315


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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...