January 3, 2012

Happy New Year...Here's to a birdy 2012!

If there is one thing I have found in life, it is that years are like birds - they just keep flying by...

Out with the old, in with the new.  2012 brings with it hopes of making further progress on this old house in the form of a kitchen overhaul, and of course seeing lots and lots of birds. 

I started the new year with a little rare bird chase.  As I've mentioned before, I don't often trek many miles for a locally spotted rarity, but a Yellow-breasted Chat hanging out in Portland sent me over the edge.  I had to try for it.  Strike 1.  But we happened into the gentleman that had originally found it (and who had seen it again that morning!) and he told us about a Greater White-fronted Goose just down the road hanging with some Canada's...BINGO, quick and simple lifer to start the new year right!  While no one likes a chain link fence background, we were urban birding and took what we could get...

Still suffering terribly from Snowy Owlitis, and having been repeatedly skunked by them in 2011, we went for the two Snowy Owls that have been sighted regularly on small islands off of Biddeford...strike 2.  But we did see some pretty cool seaducks and these Wild Turkeys...

I'm just happy to have started the year of two-thousand-twelve with a small bird adventure. 

Looking back on 2011, I smile at the memories of the juicy lifers I checked off my list.  I totaled 52 lifers for the year, which brings me up to 350 total species on my Life List.  These are some paltry numbers compared to some other Really Serious Birders I know, but I am pleased with my progress nonetheless.  That breaks down to one new species a week! 

A few highlights of 2011 included: 3 new hummingbird species (Allen's, Anna'a, and Costa's), 3 new raptors (Swallow-tailed Kite, Snail Kite, and Short-tailed Hawk).  I also had a Sayornis closeout with a Black Phoebe spotted at the Salton Sea.

Nemesis birds that I finally got included BOTH American Bittern AND Least Bittern (the latter was right behind my house!), Black-necked Stilt, Black Skimmer, Wilson's Warbler (also a backyard lifer), Vermilion Flycatcher, Greater Roadrunner, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, and Clapper Rail.  All those lifers and other than the photos from FL, the only "decent" (and I use that word lightly) photo I got was of this Vermilion Flycatcher...

By far, my favorite lifer experience of 2011 had to be the Greater Roadrunner.  This guy approached us not once, but twice on the front patio at my friend's house in Southern California.  The roadrunner proceeded to communicate by clapping it's bill and flaring it's crest at us from 2 feet away for at least 3 full minutes.  It was awesome - one of those bird moments that I'll never forget.  I was lucky to have at least had my cellphone on me and was able to capture some grainy photos of the Greater Roadrunner Experience...

As the years slip by and the Life List grows, I know it will be progressively harder to see so many new birds in one year.  So here's to a birdy 2012, may it be full of adventure and lifers!


  1. Congrats on such a birdy 2011! I love the Roadrunner photos even if they are just cell phone pics- I'd love to see one of those guys... Happy new year!

  2. Hey Lauren don't get overawed by some of those RSBs. Its the joy of seeing and experiencing all birds that matters, not just the rare ones. Must say I wouldn't mind a RR though.

  3. @Jen: Thanks! Your 2011 birds sounded spectacular!

    @Phil: So true, especially during the doldrums of Maine winter...It's safe to say I am pretty much overawed by all birds, guess that's what makes us bird nerds!