Two-thousand-twelve was a pretty darn good year for me birding-wise and otherwise. Seeing 525 species was nice, as was the fact that I birded in four countries, nine of the fifty states in the United States, and fifty-one counties. I had some goals for this year as well, goals which I laid out in the introduction to my 2012 year list.
This year my goals are simple. I want to reach 500 birds in the ABA, get my Queens list to 295, see a total of at least 500 species, and get my World Life List to 1,100.
I managed to achieve three out of the four goals I set for myself. I came up just short of reaching 1,100 Birds on my overall World Life List, clocking in at 1,096, not a bad increase of 48 from the beginning of 2012 when I started at 1,048. Getting my Queens Life List up to 297 was particularly satisfying because I started the year at only 284, which means I added one more than one bird a month, tough to do on a county list pushing 300 species. As for my ABA Life List, which started the year at 478, well, I was happy to end up at 500 exactly. I wonder how many I’ll be able to add in 2013. Finally, my 2012 Year List easily exceeded the 500 species I had hoped to see.
But how did I see so many species this year? A rundown of my year is below, broken down into the integral parts which, collectively, allowed me to see what I saw.
January – Starting Off and Florida
January 2012 started off with a bang. Or, really, a text message. A text message that let me know about a mega-rarity in New York!
New York State’s first Grace’s Warbler
I followed that twitch up with a couple of other twitches when rarites showed but my year list really didn’t take off until the end of the month. What happened at the end of January? I went to the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville, Florida. It was my first Florida birding so I had quite a few easy birds to check out and check off my ABA life list. Florida Scrub Jay? Check. Anhinga? Check. Mottled Duck? Check. Crested Caracara and Snail Kite? Check and check. Purple Gallinule? Check. I even twitched a rarity – Gray Kingbird? Check. Altogether, Florida added eleven new birds to my ABA list of which six were lifers. Not a bad way to finish off the first month of the year.
February – The Winter Doldrums
I say that February was a slow month for birding but, really, it wasn’t all that bad. It was just hard for February to compete with the awesomeness that was January in Florida. I did finally get Snowy Owls in Queens, even if they did cause a bit of controversy. I also found my own Cackling Goose, one of three I would end up finding in 2012.
March and April – Early Migration and Some Good Warblers
March was very slow so I took the time to enjoy the common birds, especially woodpeckers and turkeys. Sometimes they surprised me with their behavior. I was pleased to add a new woodpecker to my Queens list too.
Things picked up in April, with two really good wood-warblers for Queens crossing my camera lens, a Yellow-throated Warbler and a Golden-winged Warbler. In addition to those two gems I also took time to get some decent shots of the earlier-to-arrive wood-warblers. I really appreciated some very cooperative Indigo Buntings, a nice Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and birds singing on territory. April was also the infamous Bird Love Week on 10,000 Birds.
May – Migration’s Peak and Breeding Begins
May is when the bulk of the birds come back. It is a frantic time for both birders and birds, albeit for different reasons. I enjoyed passerines, like wood-warblers and vireos, and some shorebirds this May. I also appreciated Mississippi Kites not too far from my job, great birds on the coast of Queens, and more wood-warblers. Despite all that birding I had some time to try to guess what my next eleven birds in Queens would be. Finally, I learned not to feed the birds.
June – Hungary
In June I went to Hungary. It was awesome – especially the hedgehog and the amazing new Swarovski spotting scopes I got to play with.
Northern White-breasted Hedgehog
I also played around with a cool adapter that connected my iPhone to my optics.
July – Baby Bird Week and Shorebirds
Baby Bird Week was in July and it was completely and totally awesome. Seriously. My contributions included Killdeer, Barred Warbler, and Song Thrush.
fledgling Song Thrush about to be fed
Adding a new shorebird to my Queens list was a big plus as well!
August – Germany and More Local Birding
We had a wonderful family vacation in Germany and the Czech Republic during which I managed to do a bit of birding.
I also spent a bunch of time on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and, as usual, managed to see some birds on workdays.
The month ended wonderfully with a blue moon.
September and October – Fall Migration
I spent lots of times watching birds on their way south and massing before migrating. Whether it was hawks, terns, seabirds, wood-warblers, shorebirds, geese, falcons, finches, or songbirds and woodpeckers I was there with my camera. I enjoyed a melancholy visit home, was stumped by a vireo, built a local county list, wondered what was up with the nuthatches, birded a hurricane, and got all diabolical with wood-warblers.
November – Rarity Chasing
November is the month for rarities and 2012 was no different. Whether it was the Virginia’s Warbler, the Cave Swallows, the Northern Lapwings, or the Painted Bunting I was there. I even chased after a Barred Owl! Not that I didn’t enjoy common birds too. And the winter finches were amazing!
December – Bird Madness and California
December was a weird month in that the first half of it was spent in New York without Desi, my two-year-old son, who was in California, and the second half was spent in California.
I went a bit crazy while Desi was gone. Then I slowed down a bit but still found an insanely good bird for Queens, chased a rare duck, went out to Montauk, saw a pelican, and nabbed a good goose in the Bronx.
Once I joined my family in California my pace slowed a bit but I still saw a really good bird, missed a really good bird, licked a grebe, saw my 500th ABA bird, and shared some artsy shots. Oh, and there were mammals too.
We also announced our Best Birds of the Year and shared Your Best Birds of the Year!
What a year!
There is no way 2013 will be as good as year for me birding-wise as 2012 was. I’ll get into the reasons why in a post soon but I hope that you enjoy your 2013 and see a ton of birds!