Day 326 - 350th Species... And Counting

Monday, November 21, 2016 0 Comments A+ a-

When we last talked my goal was to hopefully add 2 more species by Thanksgiving. You've seen the title of this post so let's start off by saying, "mission accomplished". Almost immediately after my last post, a flurry of rare bird reports popped up on local listservs, facebook groups, and eBird. There were a handful of new year birds present--with photos--including 2 species that I did not get on my last big year attempt. I was itching for the opportunity to chase but was tied up with responsibilities and prior engagements that kept me from being able to do anything until the weekend. I almost folded and ditched out on being an adult on Friday, but decided I would save the skip for something more important, or urgent in the home stretch. I had wild ideas in my head about what that could be, but for now just wanted to make sure I had a viable excuse when I really needed it.

I also knew that two of the birds I planned to chase should stick around at least through the weekend. The third bird was a little more puzzling in how reliable it was, and if it was worth the time. It was a good bird for Narnia, but required a little more information I didn't yet have. It was also a bit further away, and would require most of a day to make it happen. In any event, once the weekend arrived it was off to the chases. I won't get too specific, but to say that upon arriving at the first stakeout, I promptly located the Not-so-basic Top-side within a matter of minutes. It was an easy spot, and #349 was quickly tucked away on my year list.

What are the odds I could make it another year-bird day in November? I did it 3 weeks ago, and however unexpected that was, it would be even more so in the latter half of the month right? With #349 safely stowed away, I had time to burn and headed out to a nearby neighborhood where I reliable report told me I could potentially tie down number 350 before the day was over. So I sat, waited, watched, drove around, walked around, and was skunked. I figured I could come back later, but even for the day, I was limited for time. I decided to take a drive through the neighborhood one last time on my way out.

As I pulled back to where I almost started I heard the call--the Eastern Reviewer, with it's typical reviewing call. It was clear as day! Year bird #350.

I hopped from my car and made my way in the direction of the call, snapping a couple crummy shots before it disappeared. I decided to lay in wait figuring it would be back--I was right. About 10 minutes later it came back, perched up nicely letting me bask in its glory, and then flew right over me providing great looks at what will be the last major milestone species for the year. Three hundred and Fifty species is a big year in Narnia. I won't make it to 400, so this is the last major number to pass.

If I talked to other birders on this day, they wouldn't have known that this bird was anything special for my year. Just another check mark and a good Narnia bird. But 350 was a lofty goal that I wasn't certain I would make it too this year. I set out to pass this mark, but so many factors play into whether or not I would get there. But here I am, having emerged on the other side with 40 days to go. If I keep up with my goal of a new year bird every 3-4 days, that means I could still add an additional 10-13 birds. Quite a lofty goal on top of that 350.

350. I could talk about this number a lot. A long time ago, I had a goal of seeing this many species in Narnia in a single year. I wasn't sure it could be done, without devoting your time to the endeavor in full. A state big year is such a silly thing to begin with--setting out for a goal--whether lofty, a record, or just a personal best means nothing in the grand scheme of things. A bunch of birds in a man's predefined borders. That's literally all it is. How different a state big year in any given state could be if a certain river ran a different course, if the result of a certain war had been different, if the border had been 10, 20, or 50 miles in another direction, etc. This goes for just about any big year. For the foreseeable future, we're going to have to listen to past big year birders whine about Hawaii being added to the ABA area now. Like other birders won't understand when the switch happened--and what that means for listers and big years. There will undoubtedly be two categories with a mainland big year, and a +Hawaii Big Year. Or at least those of us who pay attention to these things will understand that difference.

But I digress, again this is just our little game, and it is meaningless to anyone but ourselves. It's fun though--and that is why I do it. With a state big year you have a very limited range of places to go to. You know generally, what, when, and where to look for things, and you have an idea of what is possible. It's the intangibles (the mega-rarities) you don't plan for that make or break how big of a year you can have--along with how much time and effort you are willing to put into it. So here we are with 40 days to go and my effort is net 350. Will 355, 360, or 365 be feasible? I sure hope so--I am pleased at 350, but won't stop till there are no more birds to see this year--and frankly there are still a few out there I can work for!

New birds this post: 2
Year List: 350


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