Day 366 + 2 - Eastern Bluebird... In Utah!!!

Monday, January 02, 2017 0 Comments A+ a-

A day late for what would have been an epic final bird to 2016, a pair of EASTERN BLUEBIRD popped up less than 5 miles from my house on Jaunary 1st.  The irony?  On the 30th, I walked within a 1/2 mile of where they were found!!! Ouch!  Oh well.  Eastern Bluebird are extremely rare in Utah, and this was a 1st state bird for me.  I took my 2 year 4 month old son Cameron along for the chase and quickly found the vagrants.  He was even able to see the "blue bird, orange bird" through my binos.  What a way to start 2017.

After my day off yesterday I was feeling better today so opted to try my luck before hte bluebirds disappeared.  My FOY bird--a bit nostalgic at this point was a BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE flying in front of my car much like last year.  Not to spend too much time on talking about things 2017 and the future--but at some point I will move my posts back to my blog at my personal website, or my guiding companies website.  I want to keep posting here while relevant to 2016 but that shouldn't continue for more than a couple weeks of recapping, and storytelling.

So let's talk about telling people about my big year.  I haven;t outwardly talked about it--and don't have plans to make a big deal out of it.  It's not a big deal, it's just bird.  The first two people to find out were eBird reviewers and friends of mine who immediately text and asked me what was up with the old checklists of rare birds?  I came clean with a link to the blog.  Soon a couple other birding friends were in on the news, and I had to start fielding questions.  For the most part there was general excitement, but a few people were bothered that I hadn't even shared some of my rare finds with them.  I get it--I understand that frustration.  But as I explained had they done the same--and for some silly thing like this, I would have given the thumbs up.

I wasn't sure how my friends would respond, and I 'd hoped for positivity which was in the end how it seems ot be fanning out.  The community in general may not be so favorable to the idea... But, I digress I don't care too much.  If you followed my year, you know I mad ea big deal about the lack of sharing happening in Utah.  I generally share all my sightings.  So for a few months, I didn't share a handful of species--maybe 4-5 that I found that I hadn't chased.  2 were on private property. 1 was a fly by that was gone in minutes.  The other was not there 15 minutes later when I checked again.  With the exception of 1 bird I saw it as no harm no foul.  And in all fairness, it's a little of what goes around comes around.

I pointed out to one friend that a certain birder here probably would have kept most of his rare finds private had he known I was doing a big year.  That would have absolutely hurt my numbers.  As it were I had to do some detective work on a daily basis to see what he was finding.  Birders--we're a freaking weird bunch.

Anyways, I plan on starting to tell my family, coworkers, and others in the coming week.  The point I want to make clear is that this big year wasn't a big deal.  It was done with ease, and without the need to spend every living moment birding.  I fit it into my everyday birding, my planned trips, tours, and a handful of chases I couldn't avoid.  It didn't consume my life, but was just a part of it. I wager that if I wanted, I could snag 325 species this year by doing the same thing--minus the chases.  I would also avoid a few special trips for birds I don't need to see this year.  And I would wager that anyone who wants to do a serious Utah Big Year could hit 365 if they did it this year.  There is currently a long-standing Broad-billed Hummingbird still in southern Utah.  The Eastern Bluebirds, Bohemian Waxwings, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings are all around.  A good start to 2017 with some great birds is right there.  The key to having a big year is putting int the effort when you have to--not 100% of the time.

2016 Year List: 358


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