There are only a couple of weeks left in 2012. Last year at this time, my Junior Big Year was nearing it's end and I was in cleanup mode. Mad-dashing across Eastern North America to add 5-10 new birds to my Big Year list. Exactly 1 year ago at this time I was birding in the Augusta Bird Club Christmas Bird Count. This year, I participated in that count yesterday. Last year when I participated in that CBC (and the Rockingham County one the day before) it was a mere "regular birding" brake in my mad-dashing last month. A week before I had returned from a week in Arizona where I added 50 new birds. In the last two weeks of my year (between this date and the end of the year) I spent 5 nights away from home on two different trips and added 8 new birds.
This year, the last two weeks will be much more relaxed. However, I do have my eyes set on another rare bird, once again. A Tufted Duck is being reported from Maryland. I've birded a lot in 2012, a whole lot and added some 30 birds to my life list. But it's been since my Junior Big Year since I've done an all-out mad-dashing chase. I'm ready and this duck is my chance. If all goes well my mom and I will leave on Thursday of this week and will return 25-30 hours later, and if all is willing with another life bird on my list.
Now, I want to reflect on 2012 compared to the Big Year. I kept a year tally this year but it wasn't as "important" to me as it was last year. My year list now stands at 290 and if I head to Maryland I should add a few more, but I'll finish out shy of 300. Last year I finished shy of 450. That's roughly 150 birds difference. Which think about it is a LOT. To get near 450 is tough. It took what I did. Chase anything I could, make lots of trips, and really work for the list. This year I traveled to Glacier National Park in Montana where I saw about 20 birds I did not see last year. Take away those, that's 170 difference from last year to this year. Take away the other 10 or so that I saw this year but not last year, and we're looking at almost 200 birds that I saw last year but not this year. That's because I traveled to Florida, California, Texas, Alaska, Arizona, as well as up and down the east coast last year.
But this year was just as fun just not as intense and not as many birds. The Montana trip was awesome, I had 18 life birds as well as 32 bears (mostly Grizzlies) and lots of other wildlife. I saw several really rare birds this year, and found rare birds myself for the first time. I remember the total thrill of finding a rare White-winged Dove in eastern Virginia this February. The rarest bird I saw this year, I would say was the Black Rail in West Virginia. I am one of the few people that can say they've SEEN (rather than just heard) a Black Rail in West Virginia.
And if you're wondering, my life list is now 491. I hope to reach and surpass 500 in 2013.
Wish me luck for the Tufted Duck and lots of birds in 2013!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!