1 January 2014 Wednesday: Today I am embarking on another adventure. Every New Year, like many other bird watchers I head out on the 1st of January to see as many species as possible. This year, 2014, I am going to attempt to see 400 species of birds in Arizona. Why? - because I want to, because I can, because it is possible, because it will not be easy, because it should be fun, and just because! Throughout much of last year I was asked if I was doing a Big Year since I was in lead the eBird Top 100 for Arizona in 2013. I wasn’t particularly working on a Big Year since I knew that I would be out of the state four of the eight final weeks of 2013 and that the time between these trips I would be focusing on things other than Arizona birding. I have no lengthy out of state trips planned for 2014. I probably also caught this fever from several of my clients in 2013 that were doing ABA Big Years. So why 400? – because it is a nice round number higher than any Arizona year list total I can find in eBird or ABA Listing Central. I’ll work further to refine my goal but for now I’m running.
At the beginning of previous years, I seemed to focus on maximizing my species count. Or at least it feels that way. My plan this year is to focus on the rarities that are around presently and those species that I seem to miss most years. And let the more common and regularly occurring species fall in when and where appropriate.
I coaxed Andrew Core to join me today, not that it took much coaxing. We targeted many of the rarities occurring around Tucson, particularly those rarities that could not be found easier at another time and place in Arizona. Our targets for the day: the Louisiana Waterthrush on the Santa Cruz at Ina Road, the junior flock of Greater White-fronted Geese at Arthur Pack Park Golf Course, the recently discovered Harris’s Sparrow at Himmel Park, the not seen recently until this morning by someone else Pine Warbler at Reid Park, the Black Scoter behind the Hardesty Building, and the Magnolia Warbler & Northern Parula along the Tanque Verde Wash on the eastside of town. We were successful with all except the Pine and Magnolia Warblers. The Pine Warbler is difficult to find when the park has few visitors. By the time that Andrew & I got there, it was being overrun many folks enjoying the beautiful weather and a day off of work. The Magnolia Warbler can be difficult and mid-afternoon today especially so. I plan to search for the Pine Warbler early tomorrow morning. I am not sure what I will do about the Magnolia Warbler.
I finished the day by taking a neighborhood walk with Louise at sunset and added a few easy birds to the todays tally. Total Species Count = 86.