Thursday, December 27, 2012

Starting to Plan for My 2013 Bay State Big Year

Part of the appeal of doing a "big year" (on a small scale) for me is the chance to work on my overall birding skills and learn more about avian life in general
As I start to think about my plans for a 2013 Bay State Big Year I've begun to do a little research into how other birders have tackled this sort of project and so far it's been a lot of fun to read about the different approaches people have tried and the adventures they have had along the way. It seems like the one unifying element across the board is a desire to see as many birds as possible in a given geographic area over the course of a calender year. For me, my goals are as follows:

1. To try and see 300 species of birds in Massachusetts.

2. To explore and experience new places in the state.

3. To improve my birding skills.

4. To gain a deeper knowledge of the varied habitats that birds (and other wildlife) call home in the Bay  State.

5. And last but not least, of course I want to have fun along the way.

Right now I am doing some research online, but I also keep a stack of birding books on my night table to look through each night before I fall asleep. At the moment, I have the two books in the photo above: Kenn Kaufman's Field Guide to Advanced Birding and The Shorebird Guide, as well as Sibley's guide to birds of western North America - my much-loved and well-worn Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America tends to never leave my car, a safeguard against forgetting it when going out birding. This last book is definitely my constant companion and go-to field guide when I'm outdoors. I find the illustrations extremely useful in making identifications when I encounter unfamiliar birds and overall it's easy to use.

I'm also starting to think about the places I want to check out in the coming year, from familiar haunts such as Broadmoor and Stony Brook wildlife sanctuaries to places I've been meaning to get back to, including Plum Island and the Halibut Point State Park, not to mention spots I've yet to visit on Cape Cod and in western Massachusetts.This weekend I'm hoping to get outside and perhaps add a few more last-minute species to my list for 2012. Maybe I'll even find some promising places to continue my search in 2013 as I embark on my adventure.

In the meantime, I'd like to share a few links to some birding blogs which touch on this rather strange yet wonderful notion of a big year. Happy reading !

1. Lynn Barber writing on the ABA blog about big year strategies

2. John Vanderpoel chronicles his 2011 big year.

3. Robert Mortensen offers some strategic thoughts on planning for a big year.

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2012.

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