Thursday, December 31, 2009

What the hell am I doing?

Well this will be kind of rushed because I need to get down to a matinee Penticton Vees Game followed by New Years celebrations in Kelowna (I'm anticipating a slow start to January 1rst)...

Since I now have an Arts Degree (pending some credit approval) and no job, I figure I may as well attempt to set a new record for bird species seen in BC in one year. Yes money will be a factor, that's why I'm hoping to get some "strategic" birding jobs in the spring and summer (please let me know if you hear of anything!), but needless to say it's going to be fun. I was thinking of heading to Patagonia or somewhere else exotic in January but instead I figured BC was big enough to explore some more and hey, why not take a trip up to Dawson Creek in February instead? I guess what I'm getting at is that there is still so much about BC that I haven't experienced yet and I'm especially interested in getting to know its diverse bird populations and bird-er populations. For me doing a birding big year is not all about getting a mention in the annual BCFO lister's corner article or winning a massive trophy (which unfortunately doesn't exist); it's about meeting new people and learning from them and from the regions in which they live. I've been a keen birder for many years, but until recently I rarely ever left the Okanagan Valley... time to change this! Vancouver Island, Haines AK, Tumbler Ridge, Creston,... you can all expect to hear from me soon! There are indeed several other reasons for getting out and about but we'll cover those later, this is getting rambly enough!

So here are the basics:

Mike Toochin saw an amazing 363 species in 2001 (as I understand it) and I intend to see more than that. Ironically if I'm going to set a new record I'll need to see more birds next year than I have in my entire life in BC. How hard could it be right? (very hard)

Math: There are roughly 300 species that breed in BC plus another 50-60 that regularly occur on migration by through annual overshoots. If I can be in the right place at the right time, hopefully I can track all these suckers down. The remaining tallies will have to come from rarities. Not an easy task for a poor ex-student to twitch a cuckoo in Cranbrook on Tuesday, then a King Vulture on Haida Gwaii on Friday. I'll need to visit all corners of the province and learn to anticipate where rarities will show up... and I may take advantage from a few friendly couches along the way...

Anyhow, I'll be posting regularly on this page to update my year. Follow along and feel free to post discussion questions and comments of your own.

Tomorrow is Jan 1, I'll be a little hung-over but should be able to add a couple birds. Then Jan 2 it's the Osoyoos CBC followed by the Princeton CBC on the 3rd. After that, who knows!!?? Could be your town...

Farewell to 2009

Well it's been quite the year, a "warm-up" if you will for 2010. Simply by working in some fantastic areas like Fort Nelson and Revelstoke, mixed with my usual close-to-home birding in the Okanagan and three weekend trip to the coast, I managed a respectable 338 species for the year. Wow that was an awkward sentence; hopefully by writing things down everyday from now on I'll be able to enhance my literary prowess. Anyways... it would be hard to briefly sum up the highlights from this past year but here are a few notable bird memories:

-Finding an apparently legit Western Gull (adult) in Kelowna in February
-IDing 8 species of gulls on the roof of Memorial Arena in Kelowna at one time
-Almost driving past a sleeping Great Egret in Penticton because my passenger wasn't aware that it was an awesome bird for the area
-hearing a pack of wolves welcome the dawn near OK Falls on my first serious biking "Big Day" in the Okanagan (not birds but still amazing!!!)
-Witnessing both spring and fall migration in beautiful Revelstoke, BC
-After 3 weeks of searching, finally detecting Yellow Rails up in the Peace (on the last day)
-Finding all 3 species of ptarmigan and hearing the males vocalize (very cool)
-Radio-tagging a female Spotted Owl in Garibaldi (and seeing 13 other owl species this year!!!)
-Catching up with a few BC rarities like Indigo Bunting, McCown's Longspur, and Black Phoebe
-Finally getting out on a BC pelagic trip but somehow missing the South Polar Skua that EVERYBODY else saw!
-After years of never seeing one, finally lifting my Okanagan Valley Rusty Blackbird jinx by finding 1 at the Kelowna landfill and then another just north of Vaseux Lake!

Those are just a few of the high times, I also had a great year meeting new people and places, and reacquainting my self with old ones.

Here's to the new year!