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Out with the old and in with the new! Recap on 2012 big year, and speculating on 2013

January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!  Our project to do our 2012 big year is over, and, for me at least, a new one is starting.  Still no birds to report on for 2013, as the entire first day of this new year was spent around the dining room table  of friends in Casselman Ontario.  I was going to spend several hours the last two days of 2012, pushing for species 85.  However, a combination of cold and busy determined that it was just not meant to be.   I have settled for 84 species. My final species was Hoary Redpoll.   A few visited the feeder the day before heading west for Christmas to Tobermory.   In the end, only the Red Crossbill eluded me of the potential finches to see in the Outaouais.   As I reflect back on my big year, and this blog, I admit that I have enjoyed this, even thought it has been so low-key.  There were moments, especially in the spring, when I was pretty serious, and it paid off.  I think there were some remarkable observations.   The sapsuckers in the tree in front of our balcony were amazing.  The march of warblers, especially the budworm warblers – Cape May and Bay-breasted, along the edge of Gatineau Park, on the other side of my street, at the same level as our east window, was impressive.  I also was fortunate to identify many birds from our bed.  Sleeping with the window wide open, I was graced by the song of many birds, including Wood Thrush, Veery, Scarlet Tanager and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  Some I actually was dreaming about, and woke only to realized that their songs had somehow woven themselves into a dream, and the birds were really there, singing not far from our window!   My wife got used to my antics, waking up, saying a bird name and celebrating with a fist pump.   However, the most amazing and inexplicable moment was that Peregrine.  I sware it drew me to the window with its calls, then hovered 15 metres off our balcony, just long enough for me to see it well, before it high-tailing away.   I don’t every recall such a feeling of gratitude from observing a bird.

My friend Al, at his Outdoor Education Centre had tied his all-time best with 111 species.  He described to me how he was celebrating number 112, (White-winged Crossbill), then checked his records and found that he had observed the species in the spring.   Not sure where Sean or Rod ended up, though I believe Rod was over 130.    I think back to the gaps, and realized that next year I can do better with more effort during certain times of the year.   Almost no waterfowl.  No shorebirds.  Few raptors.   Few sparrows.    Part of the problem is that I am a busy guy, and life gets in the way.  Maybe that is a good thing.   This year, my goal is to better my 2012 total of 84.   With any luck I can observe 85 species.   With lots of luck, 90.   If everything goes extremely well, I think that 100 is within range.   Tomorrow the new big year from the balcony starts.  I hope that I can sleep despite the excitement!

Species 84, Hoary Redpoll with Common Redpoll

Species 84, Hoary Redpoll with Common Redpoll

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