Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Wrap-up

One of the things I have come to really appreciate about eBird this year is the ability to compare what I have seen this year against last year. I have done this a couple of times over the course of the year, and have looked at different locations to see where I have been at numerically as the year progressed.

Here is my high level view of this year's "My eBird" tab, state view as of this morning.

213 species during the year, and a lifetime total of 252 - A year that I would consider a success for many reasons. Just for comparison here is similar shot taken last year:

At a quick glance the charts show me that I added 51 new species to my life list, and increased my year total from 196 to 213. The 51 is nice, but frankly only 17 additional birds in the course of a year would seem to be a bit disappointing. However, I have a good reason why I feel that number was well earned.
In 2009 I had the good fortune to take a number of trips that worked out really well for bird watching. I drove across Nebraska to visit my Sister's family in Iowa in the spring, and then visited Nevada, and several eastern states in the early and later fall respectively. All those states gave me great exposure to locally common birds that I didn't normally get a chance to see.
This year I have done a bit of traveling, some of it birding specific, but those trips have either been close to home, or have not offered the same opportunities that I had last year. For that reason I think my slightly increased year total does reflect good development of my birding skills over the course of the year. I was identifying more of the birds that showed up in a less diverse chunk of habitat. Too be fair, many of those birds were relocations of previously identified birds reported by other individuals. I hope that over the course of time my exposure to the less common species will allow me to identify them, should I encounter them as I am out in the field myself.
My concentration within the State of Colorado was certainly reflected in my growing county lists. Boulder showed a drop, (I counted 142 species there last year), but I had 8 counties with over 40 species reported this year as opposed to only 3 last year.

I think 2010 was a great year of expanding my horizons within Colorado. State parks such as Chatfield, Cherry Creek and Roxborough became more frequent destinations, and I spent less weekend time hitting the same locations that I visit in Boulder during the work week.
Some of the highlights from the year were the Colorado Field Ornithologists Convention in Ft. Collins, climbing Gray's Peak and adding Brown-capped Rosy Finch to my life list along the way and a snowy but warm morning at the South Mesa Trailhead in Boulder where warblers and orioles perched in snow against a bright blue sky. A few local road trips also had highlights for the year. My first night sleeping in the 4runner in Lincoln County, then waking after a rainstorm to Scaled Quail right in the campground was fun. So was driving over Trail-ridge Road to see my first Colorado Moose in several years, and then touring on through the sparsely populated northwestern corner of the state. Of course chasing, and finding the Orange-billed Nightengale Thrush was a memory I won't soon forget - the species had only been recorded north of Mexico twice previously.
I think the real highlight will have to be remain the May snowstorm that I enjoyed in Estes Park with my parents and sister's family.
Next year will be full of new challenges and goals, and in 36 hours the lists all reset. Once again earbirding will be my stated area of focus. I am getting better, but know that will really help me get a handle on all those birds I have not been identifying in the field. I am also going to try to work in the time for at least one good road trip out of state. To start the year off right it is South Lake Tahoe for skiing and hopefully a few good birds. I hope that everyone has a good New Year celebration, and remains safe whether it is snowy, or just not mixing the libations and driving.

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