Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Adventure Ends


I suppose there are a few of you interested in when Age of Death will hit the streets, maybe even a handful hoping to discover when Age of Empyre will roll into beta. Might even be one or two wanting to learn more about the new trilogy: Nolyn/Farilane/Esrahaddon, or the schedule for Drumindor, the next Royce and Hadrian novel. But by far the vast majority of those who read this blog I am certain are on the edges of their perches desperate to hear how it all turned out. 

Who won the Great Birding Year Challenge of 2019?

Black-crowned Night Heron (shot in Central Park, NY)

As all of you are aware, my daughter and I began competing to photograph the most species of birds in one year. Given we started the day after Thanksgiving the contest is now over, and all of you I am positive want to know the outcome. Before I get to that, lets review.

Winter Wren (Central Park)


We based our contest on the movie and book of the same name: The Big Year by Mark Obmascik, but we changed the rules to require identifiable photographs in order to count. The result was a country-wide, year-long, Pokemon style adventure were we tried to shoot them all. Together, or separately, we traveled to Key West, Everglades & Merritt Island in Florida; High Island, in Texas; Occoquan Park, and Virginia Beach, in Virginia; Central Park in Manhattan; and several less trod sanctuaries mostly in the south, mid-Atlantic and northeast of the United States.  

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Female) (Photographed in Shenandoah VA)


Over the course of the year, we learned a ridiculous amount about birds. At the start, both of us would have had difficulty identifying more than ten bird species; now we can do more than that by bird song alone. We have an understanding of migration patterns, where and how to find specific birds, their habits and quirks. Crows will lead you to eagles; chickadees always hang with titmice, usually in pine trees; owls are best seen at dusk; birds know to keep the sun behind them in order to blind you and ruin photos; Morning Doves are not owls but they sound like them; birds of many feathers flock together, and let you get closer the more of them there are; the board game Wingspan is almost impossible to obtain; birders are consistently some of the nicest people you’re ever meet; winter and early spring is the best time to bird, and leaves and misquotes are not a birder’s friend. 

Northern Water Thrush (Photographed Central Park)



Over the year, we had great fun, got plenty of exercise, went to places we never would have dreamed of going (skipping Disney World for Merritt Island) and are the better for it. I feel like I should have paid money for the fun we had playing this game, but it was free, and often I never had to leave my front porch to play. I once spotted sixteen species on my own front lawn in one hour. Even the rainy days, the cold days, the early mornings crawling out of bed, were far more enjoyable than I’d like to admit. And of course, we get to keep the photos.

Pileated Woodpecker (Shenandoah)


We’ll be doing it again this year, only this time well begin on January 1st like the rest of the world, and as we know how to identify, and both have good binoculars, we’ll play by the official rules. If you want to join us down load the free eBird app, get a pair of binocs, and then just go outside. 

   



Doesn’t matter where you are, there will be birds, and you’ll never know what you’ll see because life is chaotic and often magical. But be careful, and be warned this activity comes with the very real risk of learning something, experiencing real-life adventures, breathing fresh air, building muscle, seeing some wonderful sunrises and sunsets, and making new friends. 

Final tally:
My daughter shot 179 birds on the year. 

I lost by two, coming in with 177. 

Total List for 2019:

BIRDING LIST
1. Anhinga.jpeg
2. Blackbird (RedWing).jpeg
3. Blackbird (brewers)
4. Bluebird (Eastern).jpeg
5. Brown Creeper.jpeg
6. Bunting (Indigo).jpg
7. Caracara.jpeg
8. Cardinal (Northern).jpg
9. Catbird.jpeg
10. Chickadee (Black-capped)
11. Chickadee (Carolina)
12. Coots (American).jpeg
13. Cormorant (Double Crested).jpg
14. Cormorant (Neotropic).jpeg
15. Cowbird (Brown-headed).jpeg
16. Crane (Whooping).jpeg
17. Crow (American).jpeg
18. Crow (Fish) VB
19. Dowitcher (Long-billed).jpeg
20. Duck (Black)
21. Duck (Black-Bellied Whistling).jpeg
22. Duck (Blue-Winged Teal).jpeg
23. Duck (Buffleheaded).jpeg
24. Duck (Fulvous Whistling).jpeg
25. Duck (Gadwall).jpeg
26. Duck (Greater Scaup).jpeg
27. Duck (Lesser Scaup).jpeg
28. Duck (Mallard).jpeg
29. Duck (Muscovy).jpeg
30. Duck (Northern Pintail).jpeg
31. Duck (Northern Shoveler).jpeg
32. Duck (Ruddy).jpeg
33. Duck (Wood)
34. Dunlin.jpeg
35. Eagle (Bald).jpeg
36. Egret (Cattle).jpeg
37. Egret (Great).jpeg
38. Egret (Snowy).jpeg
39. Falcon (American Kestrel).jpeg
40. Falcon (Merlin) VB
41. Finch (American Goldfinch).jpeg
42. Finch (House).jpeg
43. Flycatcher (Brown-Crested ).jpeg
44. Flycatcher (Scissor-tailed).jpeg
45. Flycather (Greater Crested).jpeg
46. Frigatebird (Magnificent).jpeg
47. Gallinule (Common).jpeg
48. Gallinule (Purple).jpeg
49. Geese (Canadian).jpeg
50. Geese (Snow)
51. Geese (White).jpeg
52. Gnatcatcher (BlueGray ).jpeg
53. Grackle (Boat-tailed).jpeg
54. Grackle (Common).jpeg
55. Grackle (Great-tailed).jpeg
56. Grebe (Horned).jpeg
57. Grebe (Pie-Billed).jpeg
58. Grosebeak (Blue)
59. Gull (Herring).jpeg
60. Gull (Laughing).jpeg
61. Gull (lesser black-backed)
62. Gull (Great Black-backed) Virginia Beach
63. Gull (Ring-billed).jpeg
64. Hawk (Broad-Winged).jpeg
65. Hawk (Cooper's).jpeg
66. Hawk (Harrier Northern)
67. Hawk (Red-Shouldered).jpeg
68. Hawk (Red-Tailed).jpeg
69. Hawk (Sharp-Shinned).jpeg
70. Hawk (Short-Tailed).jpg
71. Heron (Black-crowned Night)
72. Heron (Great Blue).jpeg
73. Heron (Great White).jpg
74. Heron (Green).jpg
75. Heron (Little Blue).jpeg
76. Heron (Tri-colored).jpeg
77. Hummingbird (Ruby-throated)
78. Ibis (Glossy).jpeg
79. Ibis (White-faced).jpeg
80. Ibis (White).jpeg
81. Jay (Blue2).jpeg
82. Jay (Scrub).jpeg
83. Junco (Dark-Eyed).jpeg
84. Killdeer.jpeg
85. Kingbird.jpeg
86. Kingfisher (Belted).jpeg
87. Kinglet (Red-crowned)
88. Kinglet (Golden-Crowned).jpeg
89. Martin (Purple)
90. Meadowlark.jpeg
91. Mockingbird (Northern).jpeg
92. Nuthatch (White-Breasted).jpeg
93. Oriole (Baltimore)
94. Oriole (Orchard).jpeg
95. Osprey.jpeg
96. Ovenbird
97. Parula (Northern).jpeg
98. Pelican (Brown).jpeg
99. Pelican (White).jpeg
100. Pewee (Eastern Wood)
101. Phoebe (Eastern).jpeg
102. Pigeon (Eurasian Collared Dove).jpeg
103. Pigeon (Ground).jpeg
104. Pigeon (Mourning Dove).jpg
105. Pigeon (Rock).jpeg
106. Plover (Wilson).jpeg
107. Polver (Palminated).jpeg
108. Polver (Piping).jpeg
109. Raven (Common).jpeg
110. Redstart.jpeg
111. Robin (American).jpeg
112. Sanderling.jpeg
113. Sandpiper (Solitary)
114. Sandpiper (Spotted)
115. Snipe (Wilson).jpeg
116. Sparrow (Chipping).jpeg
117. Sparrow (Field).jpeg
118. Sparrow (House).jpeg
119. Sparrow (Savanah).jpeg
120. Sparrow (Song).jpeg
121. Sparrow (White-Crowned)
122. Sparrow (White-throated).jpeg
123. Spoonbill (Rosette).jpeg
124. Starling (European).jpeg
125. Stilt (Black-necked).jpeg
126. Storks (Wood).jpeg
127. Swallow (Barn).jpeg
128. Swallow (Cliff).jpeg
129. Swallow (Norther rough-winged).jpeg
130. Swallow (Tree).jpeg
131. Tananger (Scarlet).jpeg
132. Tananger (Summer).jpeg
133. Tern (Caspian ).jpeg
134. Tern (Forester's).jpeg
135. Tern (Least).jpeg
136. Tern (Royal).jpeg
137. Tern (Sandwich).jpeg
138. Thrasher (Brown).jpeg
139. Thrush (gray-cheeked)
140. Thrush (Hermit)
141. Thrush (Northern Water)
142. Thrush (Swainson’s)
143. Thrush (Wood)
144. Towhee (Eastern).jpeg
145. Tufted Titmouse
146. Turkey
147. Veery
148. Vireo (Warbling)
149. Vulture (Black).jpeg
150. Vulture (Turkey).jpeg
151. Warbler (Black-throated Blue)
152. Warbler (Black & White)
153. Warbler (BlackThroatedGreen).jpeg
154. Warbler (Canadian)
155. Common Yellow-Throat.jpeg
156. Warbler (Nashville)
157. Warbler (Hooded).jpg
158. Warbler (Palm).jpeg
159. Warbler (Pine).jpeg
160. Warbler (Prairie).jpg
161. Warbler (Tennesee).jpg
162. Warbler (Yellow) Virigina Beach
163. Warbler (Yellow-Rumped).jpeg
164. Warbler (Yellow-Throated).jpeg
165. Waxwing (Cedar).jpeg
166. Whimbrel.jpeg
167. Willet.jpeg
168. Woodpecker (Downy).jpeg
169. Woodpecker (Hairy).jpeg
170. Woodpecker (Northern Flicker2).jpeg
171. Woodpecker (Pileated) .jpeg
172. Woodpecker (Red-bellied).jpg
173. Woodpeacker (Red-headed)
174. Woodpecker (Yellow-bellied Sapsucker)
175. Wren (Carolina).jpeg
176. Wren (Winter)
177. Yellow Legs (Greater).jpep


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  2. I bought my wife binoculars for Christmas this year so we can better see the wildlife where we just moved. Maybe we will try it for birding too, sounds fun.

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