It's time for another update on this blog.
The 5th month of 2012, the year after my Junior Big Year is coming to a close. This is not a Junior Big Year, however my birding is shaping up similarly. The trips last year are what gave me the big numbers. So far I have not flown anywhere this year and only have one flying trip planned for the rest of the year. Obviously, my list is lower at this time than it was last year at this time. Right now my "year list" is at 209 species, last year at this time that number was 302. Call it 100 below, it is very close. Although that is a big difference, the way the birds are shaping up is VERY SIMILAR to last year, only with less bird species since there have been less trips. As an example, last year from mid April-mid May I was adding more than one year bird every day, on average. Some days there would even be 5 or 8 "new ones". This is because a large percent of wood-warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, vireos, etc. winter in Mexico or South America. When the birds return for breeding, a lot of them pass through or breed here in Virginia, so the birds just "racked up". A very similar scenario happened this year. I had multiple days with 5-8 year birds and few days with none, from mid April-mid May. However, at the end of the third week in May, here in Virginia the migration turns the "off switch" with not much notice. By May 25th, Blackpoll Warblers and a few other "late warblers" are the only ones trickling through, and in very small numbers. You still have the breeders (Redstarts, Ovenbirds, Black-and-whites, Chestnut-sideds, Hoodeds, Ceruleans, Waterthrushes, and so on) however they are all fairly common and I will have likely "picked them up" by the first week of May. So come mid May last year year birds all of a sudden became few and far between. In the first half of May last year I added 21 year birds. In the second half of May last year I added 4 year birds. A very similar thing happened this year. In the first half of May I added 21 (do you see the pattern here?) year birds and so far from May 15-May 29 I have added 1 year bird.
This shows you, that even when 2 birding years are very different, same patterns can and do occur with bird migration.