It’s that time of year once again. The time where you stay up till midnight anxiously waiting for the year to change so that you can go birding and every bird will be a year bird. It’s also the time of year when I review what birding I have done in the past year.
2014 was a banner year in all ways. I visited four(!) countries, got many lifers (over 100!!), and saw some really awesome birds.
The first big trip of the year was to San Diego, California in January. This was not a birding trip, but I was able to get some birding in and saw many amazing birds such as wandering tattler, golden-crowned sparrow, California thrasher, and my 400th ABA Area lifer Eurasian wigeon. I also saw many great mammals such as gray whale, California ground-squirrel, and California sea lion.
Not long after getting back from California, my dad and I went up to Algonquin Park in Ontario to try to find some boreal specialties and irruptive species. We were not disapointed with spruce grouse, gray jay, evening grosbeak, king eider (in Toronto and not Algonquin), both crossbills, and others making appearances. We also managed to see two gray wolves crossing the road.
For spring break this year, we decided to go south of the border to the Yucatan Penninsula in Mexico. I was very excited for this as we would get to see many interesting tropical birds and it would be my first experience of tropical birding. The birding was, predictably, fantastic and we saw many great birds such as masked tityra, keel-billed toucan, and multiple species of trogon.
This may, I made my annual pilgrimage to Magee Marsh in Ohio to see the warblers that have made it famous. As usual, there was some fantastic birding to be had and many great birds to be seen. I also was able to attend a lecture by Neil Hayward which was really interesting.
In June, I went to visit my relatives in Britain and on this particular trip we stayed in Yorkshire. Despite having spent a good amount of time in neighboring Lancashire, it was my first time to Yorkshire and I was not disapointed. I was able to see many great birds such as red grouse (willow ptarmigan), Eurasian curlew, northern wheatear, and northern fulmar. I was also able to see some of the fantastic scenery which Yorkshire has to offer which was an added bonus.
In August I went on the trip that would certainly be the highlight of my year. That was a trip to Arizona to participate in Camp Chiricahua (which I still haven’t finished blogging about). The number of good birds I saw and good experiences I had are far too numerous to list here (and I don’t want to give anything away for when I finish my blog posts on it), but among the great birds were montezuma quail, yellow-eyed junco, painted redstart, elegant trogon, spotted owl, rufous-capped warbler, lucifer hummingbird, plain-capped starthroat,and many, many others.
Bird of the Year: Montezuma quail because we saw over 20(!!!!) at Camp Chiricahua
Rarest Bird of the Year: Rufous-capped warbler (Chiricahua again)
Rarest Self-found Bird of the Year: Glaucous gull in Louisiana (first in the area for over 20 years)
Best Mammal: Tie between Central American spider monkey, gray wolf, and gray whale (if I had to choose however, I’d pick gray wolf)
Most Expletive-inducing Bird of the Year: Spotted owl
ABA Life List at the End of Year: 498
Overall, it was a great year and I am looking forward to what next year might hold!