How did the Big Year go? in one word, AMAZING! 437 is more than I could ever have imagined in my wildest dreams. With just 13 more birds I would have had 100 more than my original goal of 350.
Were there any "big misses"? Yes, I think there are in all Big Years. Some were simply "misses" and a few I chose not to chase due to cost, time, etc. The one that I didn't get that I "should have had" was the White-throated Thrush (AKA White-throated Robin) in Estero Llano Grande State Park in texas. Both my dad and I put in hours of searching for that Mexican Mega but it just didn't show itself to us. It was supposed to be so reliable that it was almost bizzare. A few that I didn't chase due to restrictions. One that I felt like "I should have chased" was the Hammond's Flycatcher at a graveyard in Corpus Christi Texas. We were planning on chasing it but we would have to be in downtown at rush hour and it would rip out some precious time in the RGV. So we chose not to chase it. But I surely later regretted it...until I was in Madera Canyon Arizona when our guide spotted and identified my life Hammond's! Sometimes hard choices turn out to be good in all regards in the end.
Birds that I'm "shocked" I got? There was surely a few of those. A few of the biggest surprises were very rare birds that showed up WHILE I was in the state they showed up in. One of those examples would be the Rufous-capped Warblers in Florida Canyon Arizona. During my first night in Arizona I read about these rare mexican birds showing up and I later got them. Several other examples included included 3 in Maryland. On my first trip to Maryland, I went trying to just get the Calliope Hummingbird. But while I was there a Le Conte's Sparrow showed up and I got that too. On that same trip I read about a Snowy Owl in New Jersey that had recently shown up and we chased it and got it. On my second trip to Maryland, which we thought was just for Black-headed Gull got me the gull but a Black-headed Grosbeak showed up while we were there..and well, we got that one too.
Anyway, these are just a few reflections on my amazing year. Today I go chase a Greater White-fronted Goose that has shown up near where I live and although it won't be a lifer (it was number 368 for my J. Big Year) it's a wonderful 2012 year bird.