Well, I’ve just arrived in St. John’s Newfoundland where it’s 1:30 AM (they’re 1 ½ hrs ahead of Eastern Time.) Of course, I wasn’t planning to be here at all-not in the beginning when my goal was 683 species for 2011. Once I set my sights on 700 species, I knew I’d have to come here. I was planning that trip in December after the gulls had settled in. But a couple of weeks ago, I began perusing the details of two of the most successful recent “Big Years” Lynn Barber in 2008 with a final total of 723 and Bob Ake in 2010, a final total of 730 and second all time to the legendary and soon to be famous Sandy Komito. Low and behold my current numbers are right there with both of them. Not the total numbers, I’m behind both Bob and Lynn, but the rarities-and as far as I’m concerned that’s what’s most important right now. My definition of “rarities” includes those birds with a Vanderpoel probability code of 4 or higher (see my Bird List for explanation of each code-it’s at the bottom). In fact, I believe I’m actually ahead of both of them as of today.
What rarities does Newfoundland have right now? Six code 4’s or higher! Three gull species (does it get any better than that?) including Black-tailed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and Slaty-backed Gull. Common Snipe, Redwing and Common Chaffinch (apparently it was not gobbled up by the Sharp-shinned Hawk after all) are being seen as well. It seemed like a no brainer to get my butt over to newfoundland now rather than December. Besides early March is pretty slow birding throughout the United States. I won’t get all of them, but I’d love to get at least four of them.
By the way, I’ve added several other lists for your enjoyment under the “Bird List” column heading. One of the Colorado birders has been prodding me to project out my totals, which I’ve now done in this list. It’s titled 2011 Projected Big Year Totals. In this list I’ve included columns for Bob Ake, Lynn Barber and even Matt from Ohio so you can compare progress. Matt from Ohio sometimes seems more like a Siddhartha journey then a “Big Year” but that could always change.
I’ve also included my “Quest for a Thousand” non bird list. Anyway, tomorrow I brave the wind and cold and go after these birds. Stay Tuned.