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  1. 63 points
    You just might be addicted to Birding if: 1. You wear your binoculars to the park for family get togethers. 2. Your non-birding family outings just happen to be to places having the best shot at bagging you a lifer. 3. Your wife introduces you to her friends as "My bird nerd husband." 4. You have swerved or otherwise drove erratically while gazing up at a bird, to make sure you got a positive ID. 5. Your wife asks "How was work?" You respond with "Not Bad. I saw five American Kestrels on the drive in, a White-tailed Kite at lunch, and a Barn Owl on the drive home!" 6. Your three year old daughter calls out birds to you while you're driving. 7. Said three year old could have a life list of over 120 species, if she could remember all the birds she has been shown and told about. 8. You have been "just a few minutes" late to work, going over to your mom's, school, put off paperwork, chores, or other important tasks, because you were checking out posts on WhatBird forums. 9. You try to talk up random strangers you see that are wearing t-shirts with pictures of specific birds on them, only to receive blank stares and the comment "I don't know or care what bird that is, someone gave me this shirt." 10. You divide the year up by Fall migration, Winter residents, Spring migration, and Breeding season. You reference it like " I'm going to need to rotate the tires before Spring migration," or "Rick's birthday? Oh yah, that's at the beginning of Fall migration." 11. Your three year old daughter comes up behind you when you're looking at the ID forum, and says " That's a Red-tailed Hawk!" And she's right. 12. Your wife wishes you never discovered WhatBird, because you "spend too much time on there." 13. And last, (for now,) you believe in Bigfoot, and he moderates your favorite forum. Just off the top of my head. Feel free to add your own to the list.........
  2. 36 points
    Me and my oldest daughter...........
  3. 35 points
    I photographed this American Woodcock at an old cemetery in the heart of downtown Cleveland, Ohio (3-22-14)
  4. 35 points
    I went for the second time to the Buena Vista Prairie Chicken Management Area, near Plover, WI, to hopefully spot the Gyrfalcon that was reported there. I searched for a couple hours and decided to call it quits, only to pull over on the road to take a pic of another Snowy Owl. I just can't drive by without getting a pic of them. They are so stunning. Suddenly the owl looked like it was going to fly and I got excited because I haven't gotten an "in flight" Snowy pic that I am happy with yet. Seemingly out of nowhere, the Gyrfalcon showed up to harass the owl. What I mistook for the owl starting to fly, was actually his preparation for the confrontation. The Gyr made about 5 passes at the owl and then was gone. This is truly a moment I will never forget and most likely never witness again. It was brief, but...wow. The Gyrfalcon was a lifer!
  5. 34 points
    This thread is for all of Whatbirds young birders, under 20, to post their sightings and recent events in their birding life and on occasion, other non-birding jazz. Irrelevant topics are expected. To all adults on the forum: yes, this is an exclusive club. No offense.
  6. 33 points
    Ok, me age 5 in Norway with an Eurasian pygmy owl that crashed into our window during the night.
  7. 33 points
    Egret #1: HEY! Get off my branch! Egret #2: I was here first. YOU get off! Egret #1: I said get OFF! Egret #2: I'm not moving. YOU get off! Mom Egret (lower center): You two KNOCK IT OFF! There's enough room on that branch for both of you. Friends (far right): Oh boy. They're at it again. Egret #2: Fine. We'll share, but don't look at me.
  8. 31 points
    2013 BIG YEAR SUMMARY, part 2 There are a few people, who have helped as we’ve gone along, and it would be extremely wrong of me to not thank them in this report. As you will read in a few moments, we began 2013 as relatively inexperienced birders. Even now, we remain always anxious to learn something new. We’ve been extremely fortunate to have met/had the assistance of some truly great birders along the way. Special thanks go to Frank Nicoletti in Minnesota, Paul Lehman from California/Gambell, Wes Fritz from California, and Laurens Halsey and Melody Kehl in Arizona. Thanks to the pelagic experts, Debi Shearwater and her team of ace spotters in California, and Brian Patteson and his first mate, Kate, out of Cape Hatteras, NC. I had a great time hanging out with my new friends from Tropical Birding, namely Scott Watson, Andrew Spencer, Andres Vasquez, and Sam Woods. Huge thanks go to the pros out at St. Paul Island; Doug Gochfeld, Scott Schuette, and Cameron Cox. Also, a big thank you goes out to those many unknown strangers who reported their rarity findings via ebird or NARBA. There is simply no way those birds would’ve been seen without them. I can’t say “THANK YOU” large enough to Bob Ake. Bob has been a mentor, taking us under his wing. He has generously given us his time and expertise, always providing useful information or the right words of encouragement at the perfect time. Thank you very much Bob. Despite the BIG Year being finished, I hope that we will continue to meet for our lunches. Thank you to all the members of this site who have offered encouragement, read a trip report, or “liked” something I posted. I sincerely appreciate you. Having you along for the journey has really helped along the way. There are many, many of you who have offered tips, and who I’ve had the privilege of having private conversations with. There were so many times when I stopped to take a photo, that I wouldn’t have taken otherwise, knowing that it would be good for a trip report. It has been really fun having you along. Please know that I consider you to be friends and I sincerely hope to meet all of you in the field someday. More than anyone else, I have to thank the woman who allows me to hang out with her. Marie. Where do I begin with Marie? As I’ve indicated before, there is a very important part of this story that I haven’t shared up to this point. Now is the time to do that, as it lends perspective to the project and my lackadaisical attitude towards 700. In October 2012, I came home from a meeting one evening and found Marie lying on the floor, curled up in a ball, shaking and sweating. She didn’t know what was wrong with her, but she knew that she was in trouble. She even went so far as to make me promise to look out for her son and his young family. Marie said that it felt like she had torn a muscle in her chest, but somehow, she instinctively knew that things were much worse and she could tell that she was dying. The ambulance took her to the hospital, where, after a CAT scan, she was rushed into surgery. Unbeknownst to her, an aneurysm had been growing near her aorta since she was a child. This evening was when it decided to burst. I’ve learned that when this injury occurs, the individual usually has about 8 minutes to live. Ninety percent of the people don’t even make it to the hospital. Marie went into shock right before the surgery. Almost no one survives when that happens. In her particular case, she didn’t go into the operating room until two and ½ after the aneurysm burst! The next ten and ½ hours crawled by as the surgical team operated on her, attempting to save her life. The surgeon would later explain to us that when he sees this injury, the wound is usually about 2 inches in length. In Marie’s case, it was 7 inches. He had never experienced anything like this before, and told us that he had almost stopped the surgery immediately. The explanation that he gave was that it looked as if a grenade had gone off inside her rib cage. Marie spent the next five days in a medically induced coma, surviving with the aid of life support machines, ready to go back into surgery in case something went wrong. While in the coma, the doctors warned us that she might not be the same person we knew before the injury. There was the possibility of paralysis or brain damage. There was a very real chance that she may have to be institutionalized. Through the grace of God, the expertise of the medical team, and Marie’s hard work, I am so happy to report that, a little more than a year later, she is almost completely recovered. In late December of 2012, we purchased the movie “The Big Year” and watched it for the first time. We had done a little birding the previous two winters, always near the house, and had a life list of 132 species. While Marie recovered, our favorite activity, golf, was out of the question. Part of the prescribed healing process was light exercise, and, as long as it wasn’t too strenuous, some hiking was a healthy activity. I think it was December 29, 2012 when we had a discussion about growing our life lists. We felt that if we could see 350 species throughout the course of the year, it would be an amazing accomplishment. As you can imagine, almost dying changes your outlook on life. Marie had always wanted to visit Texas and Maine. Those were the first two trips we took together. Throughout the course of the year, we were able to share most of the outings. The main exceptions were when I was out chasing one or two birds, the trip to Colorado, or the two trips to Alaska. Even those times when I went on the road alone, she was always there, making last minute flight changes, or making rental car and lodging arrangements. The idea of chasing 700 birds never crossed our minds early on. I’m writing this on November 2, 2013 while I sit in the Tucson airport. If we don’t reach 700, it really isn’t a big deal. From the beginning, this entire thing is about Marie healing, and the project has been a part of that process. It has been a distraction from medical visits, and we’ve had a great time. My favorite moments of the journey all involve her. Watching everyone get excited when she found the Blue-winged Warbler at High Island, or especially the Antillean Nighthawk out at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. Seeing how happy she was when we visited Frank Nicoletti and got to interact with the Northern Saw-whet Owls. I loved when we were spontaneously jumping up and down like little kids after finding the Yellow-throated Warbler in northern Ohio. For us, 2013 was an extremely BIG Year, but a lot of it had nothing to do with birds. Marie, I love you. Thank you so much for everything. Ron Please don't take tomorrow or your loved ones for granted.
  9. 30 points
    I'll start with this, though it's not the best I have taken, but was the best today. Black-headed Grosbeak female, Silverado, CA by canyon53ss, on Flickr Edited to include this: 1/400 ƒ/8 ISO 640 215 mm handheld.
  10. 29 points
    ...do..do..do..lookin' out my backdoor..
  11. 29 points
    Because you have a booger on your beak!
  12. 27 points
    What I saw today were two of our awesome, young Whatbirders! I had the pleasure of spending this morning with Parula, Shenandoah Kestral, and his Godmother. These two gentlemen reached out to me, in effort to help get a Kentucky Warbler for my BIG Year project. Although the bird didn’t cooperate today, I had an absolute blast looking for it with these guys. Nothing gets by these two; the slightest little chirp and they are right on the bird. You two rock! Thanks, Ron
  13. 25 points
    Red-bellied Woodpecker IMG_0350 by toddcameron, on Flickr My Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/94870854@N06/12489457554/
  14. 25 points
    Though elevated to First Tenor, Bob sometimes struggled with High C. Untitled by canyon53ss, on Flickr
  15. 25 points
    ...and please God, don't let the Seahawks mess it up this time. Amen. ChickadeePrayer by RaptorGurl, on Flickr
  16. 24 points
    Just kidding...I just thought it was a neat pic that my sister took. MODERATORS. I know this is off topic, just delete it if you want.
  17. 24 points
    Benjamin's cool flight shot of the Osprey above reminded me of a similar shot I got of an eagle. I almost fell over backwards when it flew overhead while hand holding my 500. This shot is almost full frame, that's how close it came! Couple of Great Horned Owlets making eye contact with me.
  18. 23 points
  19. 23 points
    Went chasing this bird this morning about an hour away. After three and a half hours.... Black Oystercatcher, Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point, CA by canyon53ss, on Flickr I think he has a limpet in his/her bill. I didn't have much time to photo the bird, so I was very pleased with this. Hardly perfect, but not too bad. 1/1250 ƒ/5.6 ISO 400 143.5 mm
  20. 22 points
    Well this is my 10,000 post and I figured I should do something different about it. I wanted to thank all the whatbird members for keeping me interested in birds. Early on this site encouraged me to keep looking at birds and learn more about how to ID them. I have learned more stuff on this site then on all other sites I've been on combined. There are too many people to list that have helped, but I figure I could list a few people who have helped a lot. TheBillyPilgrim, darknight, and psweet for pointing out helpful ID tips on just about every bird you could think of. PoorMatty in sparrows, and Aberrant in gulls are two more people who early on helped me learn a lot about those families. Liam, well for a lot of things. Starting the whatbird's young birders topic, and suggesting what camera to get are just two off the top of my head. Creeker, ColoTomo, and CaBirds for giving tons of laughs! And who could forget about the benevolent dictator, BigFoot? Thanks for smashing all the spam BF! All of the young birders on here for creating a friendship with me but I can name a few who I have known longest/have had the most fun with (no offense to the people who aren't on here). Jdeitsch- a while back we'd be the only ones in chat during the early morning. We'd tell jokes and talk about birds of course. Remember the ghost of whatbird, JD? GreatHorn- oh GreatHorn... so many hilarious chatting experiences with you. Shoveler26- You're one of the people four or so people who would chat a lot a long time ago. Lots of fun times when it was us chatting! Melissa- Another person who chatted a lot. Always jealous of your camera, and would always have "Who has the better pictures of this family of birds" wars with me and anybody else in chat! Again, thanks to everybody! There's too many people to name but I figured that I should at least try to name some. Best regards, JimBob
  21. 22 points
    I didn't get a chance to post this yesterday when I photographed it in the morning (celebrated my Mom's birthday in the evening). Like Amber's Prothonotary Warbler, this one also was cooperative. I was on a railroad alongside a swamp photographing the local eagles when this guy started hunting insects in front of me.
  22. 22 points
    Today I saw and photographed American Goldfinches, Tree Swallows, three otters, a Black Tern, an American BIttern, numerous American Pelicans, an Osprey, some horses, various ducks, and even a jet flying through the dark half of a half-full super moon. But for all of those there was some kind of problem: too far away, bad lighting, other tech problems, etc. But my best pic was of—wait for it—a Song Sparrow, go figure!
  23. 22 points
    2 people go this way, I go the other. So sometimes I get lucky and see things others don't. Check this out... I think this is a Blue Mockingbird,,,so nice!
  24. 21 points
    Finally got some good images of Brown Creeper, one of my favorite birds! Brown Creeper by Thomas Cantwell - intrepidbirder.com, on Flickr Brown Creeper by Thomas Cantwell - intrepidbirder.com, on Flickr
  25. 21 points
    2013 BIG YEAR SUMMARY, Part 1 I hope that you will allow me one last report regarding my 2013 BIG Year. There are a few thoughts I would like to share with the group regarding the project. In terms of birding the ABA area, this year went way beyond anything that I imagined or ever intended. While sitting in the Tucson airport one day, back in early November, I originally wrote Part 2 of this summary with no intention of having a “part 1”. Over the course of the next couple of months, I got to thinking that people may want to read something about statistics and birds. Since this sort of information wasn’t really included in the original draft (now known as Part 2), I figured collecting some additional thoughts might be a good idea. During 2013, I traveled all over the ABA area searching out species for my life list. It was never my intention to do a BIG Year, but it sort of worked out that way, as the trips kept falling into place. I work a full-time job, and with the exception of three or four weeks, my birding was limited to the weekends (many of them of the three-day variety). With time not on my side, I typically would catch a plane on Thursday evening/Friday morning, then return home to Virginia Beach on Sunday night. I would end up flying to almost every destination, rent a car, a hotel room, and go chase my intended targets. During this process, I would visit 19 states, flying 113,898 miles, would drive 16,511 miles, and hike about 218 miles. Relatively early on (March, I think), I realized that it would be a good idea to get a Southwest Airlines credit card. I would put as many purchases on this card as I could, racking up airline miles in the process, then pay the card off each month before interest charges could hit. I did the same thing with the hotel frequent stay programs. This helped tremendously, with roughly every third flight being free. As a matter of fact, I would fly so many times that Southwest Airlines would issue Marie (my wonderful girlfriend) a “Companion Pass”, allowing her to fly free every time. With the intention of growing our Life Lists to 350, Marie and I headed out early on the morning of January 1, 2013. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel gets a variety of neat waterfowl out at the first island and I thought it would be really cool to kick off the year with a northern visitor like a Long-tailed Duck, one of the three Scoters, or possibly even a Common Eider or a Harlequin Duck! We woke up early, leaving the house about an hour before sunrise. About a mile down the road, an American Crow flew across the windshield, claiming the #1 spot on the year list! I should’ve known right then, that this year wouldn’t necessarily go as planned. Oddly, this was the only day all year that I would encounter a Baltimore Oriole. In my mind, a BIG Year was a chase for 700 birds. Shooting for 350 species, I didn’t really consider what I was doing to be a BIG Year. For the majority of 2013, I was uncomfortable with the BIG Year title, thinking that I would come nowhere close to 700 species. It wasn’t until June that I began thinking that I had an outside shot at 700. During the month of January, we would go birding on the 1st, do a weekend trip to Florida, and another weekend in Maine. Other than that, we would do virtually no other birding. If something needed showed up at the feeder, we would obviously count those species, but those ran out pretty quick. As I look back, we only birded about half the weekends up through the month of May. In hindsight, if 700 had been our target out of the gate, we would’ve easily reached it, even with a full time job! The concept of counting “heard birds” was never considered to be an option for me. Candidly, while it might be a great way to pad a bird count, I think it is one of the more idiotic things I’ve heard of. While having the calls and songs of species locked away in permanent memory is an accomplishment, just like learning a language is, it wasn’t vital to my project, especially as the need list dwindled and the targets became more specific. Too many times to count, I would find myself sitting in the car, listening to the call of my intended bird repeatedly, until I had it stashed away in my short-term memory, prior to hitting the trail. In today’s world, with so many great recordings available (xeno-canto is especially useful), I never felt the need to permanently memorize the sounds of so many species (also largely due to lack of time or desire). Seven of the top eight all-time ABA Listers don’t count heard birds. During my travels (especially to remote places like St. Paul Island and Gambell, Alaska), time and time again, I would meet very accomplished birders who took great pride in not counting heard birds. It’s funny…as I did this traveling, the two most common questions I would receive is 1) “What is your number?” and 2) Do I count heard birds? When I answered “no”, I would almost always receive a positive reaction. Not once, did I come across anyone who tried to convince me otherwise! Well…there was one time. I met an older couple down in Florida once, who told me that their Life List was over 500. Of those 500, they claimed that almost half of the birds were “heard onlys”. In my mind, I look at the guidebooks, and see photographs of all these species, so I know that it is possible to see all of them. Not all are easy, but then again, very little that is worthwhile is. I was especially concerned about the Rails, Owls, and Goatsuckers. Of all those, the Black Rail is the only code 1 or 2 bird I wasn’t able to see! I realize the ABA allows the counting of heard birds, but it’s my BIG Year, and I consider the accomplishment to be greater without the “heard onlys”. I believe the highest number of suspected heard birds that I had at any given time, was three. At one point, I heard what might’ve been the Black-billed Cuckoo, the Rufous-capped Warbler, and the Chukar. Three distinctive sounding species. Even though I never did find a Black-billed Cuckoo, my views of the Rufous-capped Warbler and Chukar were that much more rewarding, when I did legitimately find them. Maybe someday I’ll get to count a Black-billed Cuckoo, who knows? But if I do, I will appreciate it so much more. A similar type thing happened with photographs along the way. Although I was able to get photos of almost all of them, getting a photograph wasn’t a requirement for me to make the tick. On several occasions, I would initially miss out on a photo, but then get a chance to obtain one later. Every time, landing what was a missed photo, made me appreciate the bird so much more than I would’ve otherwise. In the case of the Mississippi Kite, I rushed through the trip report, and ended up deleting all my photos of the bird! Ugggghhhhhh! It was extremely frustrating at the time, but now I really look forward to seeing the bird again, as a result! There are other species out there that I will hopefully get to upgrade/obtain photographs of. When that day comes, each one will be more special to me than they ordinarily would be. From a strategy standpoint, anyone going after 700 typically makes a spreadsheet consisting of all the code 1 and 2 birds on the ABA List. Next to each species they list where they intend to see each bird, in most cases listing more than one possible location. Unfortunately, this is something I didn’t start doing until June (when I actually started thinking 700, although unlikely, was possible). As a result, I missed many birds that I may have otherwise gone after before they escaped (Bristle-thighed Curlew and Aleutian Tern are a couple that come to mind). I also would’ve gotten out to the lekking grounds of some of the Grouse birds earlier in the year. Without question, the Grouse section of the ABA List is my weakest section, still needing a whopping six species! Of all the code 1 birds, I managed to see all but two of them; the aforementioned Black-billed Cuckoo and the Greater Sage Grouse. The list of remaining code 2 birds is significantly higher, still needing 21 of them. For anyone who ever decides to take on the maniacal task of trying to get 700 species in one year, the number of rarities you get are the difference makers! If you somehow manage to get every single code 1 & 2 bird, you will still be about 35 species short of 700! When I say the rarities, I’m referring to any species that is rated code 3, 4, or 5 by the ABA (code 6 birds are considered to be extinct and are non-countable, including the California Condor). I was privileged enough to see 43 of these rarities. In taxonomic order they were: White-cheeked Pintail (4) Buff-collared Nightjar Bakail Teal (4) Green Violetear Tufted Duck Berryline Hummingbird Specatcled Eider White-eared Hummingbird Stellar’s Eider Amazon Kingfisher (5) Fea’s Petrel Budgerigar Flesh-footed Shearwater Nutting’s Flycatcher (5) Maked Booby Yellow-green Vireo Blue-footed Booby (4) Sinaloa Wren (5) Brown Booby Black-capped Gnatcatcher Northern Lapwing (4) Clay-colored Thrush Lesser Sand-plover White Wagtail Common Sandpiper Red-throated Pipit Common Greenshank Tropical Parula Black-tailed Godwit Rufous-capped Warbler Red-necked Stint Slate-throated Redstart (4) Sharp-tailed Sandpiper White-collared Seedeater Ruff Black-faced Grassquit (4) Black-headed Gull Five-striped Sparrow Slaty-backed Gull Flame-colored Tanager Little Gull Shiny Cowbird Ferruginous Pygmy-owl In addition I saw the code 3 Aplomado Falcon down in Texas, but I’m not counting it. The general feeling is that the population would cease to exist if the birds were not being bred and released into the wild down there. In the past, several of the 700 members have included this bird on their totals. Of all the birds on the list above, the only one that ever gets questioned is the White-cheeked Pintail, which are sometimes kept as pets. This particular one was seen in Florida, very close to the bird’s breeding grounds and had no evidence of being anything other than wild. I’m comfortable with the bird as being wild. In the past, whenever one of these shows up in Florida, the Florida records committee makes a ruling that they are not able to determine if the bird is wild or not, which makes no sense to me. Florida is the state where this bird is most likely to show up and I’m fairly certain there are some that are wild and some that are not. Historically, the records committee seems to have an attitude of indifference towards this species for some reason. Anyway, this particular bird is as good as it will ever get, and I’m comfortable counting it, regardless of if a ruling of “undetermined” happens again or not. Over the course of the year, Marie and I would visit many places we had never seen before. Candidly, birding takes you to areas you would never think of otherwise visiting. Places like High Island, Texas and Magee Marsh. Any place in the Rio Grande Valley. The Sax Zim Bog in Minnesota. I had never even heard of most of these places until we saw The Big Year movie! One of our favorite trips was the visit to the Dry Tortugas. And we’ll never forget the Owl experiences at the Hawk Ridge Observatory in Duluth! We quickly learned that the folks who don’t go birding have no idea about these great places. Non-birders are really missing out on a lot of wonderful experiences! St. Paul Island and Gambell in Alaska are the rarity hotspots of the ABA area. Anyone north of 700 species on their ABA Life Lists tend to visit these places over and over again, especially as their numbers climb, hoping to land another rarity or two! Living in Virginia Beach, flying to these outreaches is the equivalent of two back-to-back cross-country flights. After the grind of the past year, I’m ready to take a break from airplanes for a while. The other deterrent preventing return trips to these locations is justifying the cost. I actually had to fight this battle the last three months of the 2013 year. I was fortunate enough to have the resources, but I simply couldn’t convince myself that spending $800 - $1,000 to go chase one or two birds was a good idea! It’s the same with Alaska, only you can multiply the price a few times. I would rather take the money and go explore areas with a much larger number of new species…more on that in a bit. Thinking about the agonizingly long flights to Alaska, reminds me of how several of these trips were contests of endurance. Two particular outings immediately stand out. The first was my rarity chasing trip in Texas. I flew into the southernmost tip of the state, arriving in Harlingen, birded all that day, then drove to the very western part of the state the next day, woke up the following morning, hiked 9 miles in the mountains, then drove to Austin. I didn’t arrive home until 1:30 AM on Monday morning. It was tiring, but I did add 18 new birds though, with nine of them being code 2s, and five of them being code 3s! My first trip to Colorado entailed 1,619 miles of high-altitude, mountain driving over 3 ½ days! I was exhausted after that trip. The weekend got off to a slow start, but by the time it was over, I had ended up with a ton of new birds. These were two of the trips I did without Marie, which added to the grind. I never had as much fun when she wasn’t around. Candidly, she would urge me out the door to chase birds, and once I reached the destination, I spent a fair amount of time beating myself up mentally. I’m grateful that there were very few of these solo outings! On November 10, I saw the Amazon Kingfisher and the Sprague’s Pipit at the Rio Grande Birding Festival, putting the number for the year at 688! I took a peek at how many rarities had shown up during the months of November & December, 2012. Realistically, there were five species that I would’ve had the opportunity to go chase. When I added that to the number of code 1 and 2 birds that I felt were still in play for me, I determined that my final number would end up around 697. Mentally, I was at a point where I refused to leave Marie or my dog anymore. For the last two months I’d been dragging myself to the airport, much at Marie’s prodding. I estimated that those final 14 birds were going to cost somewhere between $10 - $14,000; another factor which made the pursuit less appealing. I don’t mind spending money on the trips, but again, picking up only one or two species at a time had lost its charm quickly. Originally, Marie and I had intended on spending the entire week of Thanksgiving flying from one location to another, making as many as five stops across the country to beef up the count. My twenty three year old daughter then called and said that she wanted to cook the entire Thanksgiving meal for us, a first attempt for her. She will be graduating college soon and possibly be moving to who knows where, and I’m valuing my time with her more than ever. I take her to dinner at least once a week and I’m worried that soon I won’t be able to see her as often as I do now. Her wanting to do Thanksgiving made the decision to stay home very easy. Then things got busy at work. Due to the nature of some of the business that had developed, it was very important for me to focus my energies there. If I pushed it, I still had a chance at 700, but the trade offs weren’t worth it to me. I wanted to sleep in my own bed during the weekends, and I just missed being away from Marie, my daughter, and my dog. We did make one final outing for the Whooping Cranes down in Rockport, Texas. It was a bird we were looking forward to seeing for quite some time. Looking back, it seems like a fitting bird to end the project with. The first species of the year was the very common American Crow. The last species was, world-wide population-wise, the rarest of any bird I saw all year. The American Crow and the Whooping Crane make nice bookends for the year. 689 is a heck of a big number for someone who had hoped to reach 350. In my opinion, the year has been a huge success. So what’s next for us birding wise? We hope to continue the growing of our Life Lists and are currently in the process of planning trips to Costa Rica and to Ecuador for 2014. There are a bunch of places out there in this world we would like to visit. I may occasionally go chase an ABA rarity or two depending on what shows up. As always, thank you so much for letting me share these reports with you. It has been my pleasure getting to know so many of you. Warmest regards, Ron
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