Archive for January, 2014

One nice benefit of having birded for many years is the fact that you get to see a lot of really nice birds. You develop a lengthy Life List. The more you bird, the longer your list.

But that has a down side as well. The more you bird, the harder it is to find new species to add to your life list.

During 2013 I added only one species to my personal life list – the Barnacle Goose that showed up at Larchmont Reservoir. The first time one has been recorded in Westchester. In the previous year, 2012, I added only one new species – the Northern Wheatear at Croton. The first time seen in Westchester in 25 years. In 2011, I added the Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Stamford, Connecticut, another first time appearance. At the rate of one new bird per year it will take decades for my Life List to grow.

So I adopted a new technique that will make my life list grow faster.

My technique appears in the Jan/Feb issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest (BWD) magazine. Maybe other birders will read it and start using my technique. And I can start a trend.
Below is the article:

My Way: Starting Over

scarlet tanager -2
I can recall the thrill of seeing my first Scarlet Tanager and can still picture my young hand proudly printing the name at the bottom of my modest life list. The brilliant red bird glowing in the bright morning sunshine is imbedded in my memory. It was a magical experience.
My life list has grown nicely since then. But new species have become more difficult and less frequent each year as my list has grown. I still enjoy adding each new species. But it is not the same as the joy of adding that tanager. I’d love to re-experience that feeling.
Obviously you can never truly repeat a first time experience. However recently I was introduced to a simple new technique that comes close: I started over.

That’s right. I re-set my life list to zero and started accumulating new species again. Even a common species, such as an American Robin, became new again. In reality, of course, I have seen most of these “new” species before. But they are “new” for my new list. Surprisingly adding a new bird is almost, but not quite, as exciting the second time around.
This practice is similar to my year list but it is different. It doesn’t end on December 31st. It keeps going. It is my new life list.
My goal, which probably won’t happen, is to someday make my new life list as long as my original list. Then, maybe, I’ll start over again.
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For the last 5 years, I have lead a New Years Day Bird Walk at Greenwich Point Park. I feel it is a nice, non-commercial way to begin the year with a relaxing walk in lovely natural setting. Others agree, making it one of my most popular walks – this year 35 people joined our walk.

Weather cooperated providing a nice morning, cool, partly sunny but none of the wind that can be so chilling by the water. Birds were not quite as cooperative. Although ducks and other water birds were scarce, we did see a total of 33 species of birds. (The complete list if shown at the bottom of this post.) It was good jumpstart to a 2014 bird list.

For me, the best bird of the day was a good close look at a N. Pintail. Its one of my favorite birds, quietly graceful and elegant.

My favorite remembrance of New Years at Greenwich is always the huge number of other people enjoying the park on winter morning. There were over 100s, families with children, dog walkers, strollers, serious joggers, a couple of hiking groups, roller skaters, and at least 2-3 groups of polar bears taking a New Year plunge into the frigid water of Long Island Sound. Good Start to New Year

Most unusual sight was two joggers dressed up as bananas.

Birds Seen (33 Species)
Backyard Birds: Chickadee, Cardinal, Robin, House Sparrow, House Finch, White-throated Sparrow, Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Starling
Ducks and Water Birds: Long-tailed Duck, N. Pintail, Mallard, Black Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Horned Grebe, Common Golden-eye, Double-crested Cormorant
Others: Winter Wren, Carolina Wren, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, Am. Tree Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird
Gulls: Herring Gull, Ringed-billed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull
Shorebirds: Black-bellied Plover, Ruddy Turnstone

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