Sunday, February 26, 2017

Birding Goals and Following Through On Them ...

Another New York State Bird and Some More Modest Progress Towards Goals

I spent most of the week like a cat pressed against the glass window itching to be outside but trapped indoors.  The weather this week was beautiful, 60+ degrees and sunny, if a little unseasonable for February in New York.  The bird news was also good, or frustrating depending on your point of view.

Me this week ....
Mid week, two bits of news broke:
1. A CLARK'S GREBE, a first New York State record, was found up at Oswego, and
2. Someone claimed to have re-found the recently departed ROSS'S GULL at Tupper Lake.
I REALLY wanted both birds, and I couldn't leave the City until Saturday at the earliest, so Thursday and Friday, well let's just say they dragged a bit ....

So as an aside, I set some birding goals every year, and sometimes I achieve them.  This year's goals were modest, nothing heroic, but I've tried to keep focussed on them:

1.  See more than 1,000 species worldwide (which should help my sadly neglected life list move along a little bit.  I'm at 415 so far this year.).
2.  And stay in the "Hot 100" for the World for 2017 .... which will require more than 1,000 species ....
3. Speaking of which .... get my life list in eBird over 4,000 species....
4. And stay in the "Hot 100" for the All Time World List on eBird - this is actually quite difficult as more and more people enter old records .... 4,000 species may not be enough ....
5.  See more than 300 species in New York State and stay in the top 10 of the eBird 'Hot 100" for the state (a recurring goal that keeps me focussed on local birding - I saw 311 species and was 5th last year).
6. Get my New York State Life List over 400 species (started the year at 390 and had added 4 species before this weekend - Northern Fulmar, Atlantic Puffin, Great Gray Owl and Black Guillemot).
7. Have an eBird county list in every New York County (so far this year I'd added Clinton, Rensselaer, Columbia and Putnam counties to the ones I'd already started, 52 down, 10 to go!)
8. Add 10 new states (or countries) to eBird (so far this year I've added only Bahia, Brazil)

So both these birds would have helped with goals number 5 and 6 (and others to some extent).

Saturday, February 25 - Oswego County, etc.

In the car at 5am and slogging across New Jersey and Pennsylvania to hook up into Western New York, and pick up Adrian Boyle in Binghamton at 7:30am.  There must be better ways to spend a Saturday morning, but at least I'm up and running and on my way North toward a hopeful meeting with a Clark's Grebe.  The trip went smoothly, and at 9:48am we pulled into the parking lot on the pier at Oswego Harbor.  There were birders there ... Tom Burke, Gail Benson, Greg Lawrence and others .... I gave one a questioning thumbs up ... a birder gave me a smiley thumbs up.  The bird was there ...

Clark's Grebe - NYS#395

Well that was easy!  Another state bird, my 5th so far in 2017.  Things are looking good for the State List Goal.

After that, let's just say the rest of the day didn't live up to expectations.  It rained, pretty much heavily and solidly for the rest of the day.  Then we pretty much dipped everything we tried to see. Payback for the easy grebe I guess.

A Thayer's Gull had been hanging out for month at Phoenix Lock but wasn't there when we were there (it as seen again today, after we were safely out of the area).  Detailed directions to a roosting Northern Saw-Whet Owl also produced nothing more than a thorough chilling and soaking in torrential rain.  But at least I did get to zig into Chenango County and start a new New York State County List, with 12 species now on my Chenango List.  Hey, its the little things that make you happy!

Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull and Iceland Gull ...
... but no Thayer's Gull
The drive back to the city was miserable .... heavy rain the whole way .... glad I got the grebe but it would be nice if the next potential state bird showed up closer to home ... just saying ...
Oh, and the Ross's Gull rumor ... just that, a rumor ... at least so far.

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