While I am a very, very infrequent blogger, especially lately, I have for the past few years written a sort of “year in review” post, at this time of year, and it seems now is as appropriate a time as any.
Starting off, it seems only proper that I divide this post into two separate topics, one concerning birding (which is also encompasses herping and just about anything natural history) and academia/personal (which to be honest, overlaps more and more every year, given my research in biology)
First off, this was the first year I have kept a “year list”, which I found to be an enjoyable past-time and a good motivator for many of my birding exploits. My year list was for the most part a county-based effort, with neither the time or money to really pursue anything on a state or national level (though on the national level I at least scored 381, not bad with only minimal east coast birding opportunities).
My year list total (unless an owl happens to crash into my window tonight) is so far at 256 species, or approximately 53% of species recorded in San Diego County. Some highlights within the county this year were Crested Caracara, Painted Bunting, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Crissal Thrasher, Stilt Sandpiper, Ruff, and Tricolored Heron. My year list COULD have been higher, but some birds were lost from bad timing (Mississippi Kite, Hooded Warbler), Lack of time (Purple Martin, Le Conte’s Thrasher, Harris’s Sparrow), and just really bad luck (Blackpoll Warbler, Red-throated Pipit). Overall all, including out of county birds, I picked 79 lifers, and have also seen nearly all the SoCal endemics.
Of target birds since my last myspace post, I have managed to knock off 3 of 9 for the county (San Diego Cactus Wren, Common Ground Dove, and Canyon Wren). My new targets, for the remainder of my stay in San Diego, are the following:
Bell’s Sage Sparrow (subspecies, future split)
Gray Vireo (Lifer)
Cassin’s Vireo (Lifer)
Le Conte’s Thrasher (county, plus would like a more identifiable look then I had for my Arizona birds)
White-winged Scoter (may knock it off tomorrow with any luck)
Overall, this has been a fun year in birding. Had the opportunity to bird several fun places with friends (Salton Sea on multiple occasions, Yosemite, SE Arizona, Phoenix area). Even knocked off some east coast lifers in South Carolina. Yosemite gave me my first real experience with Mountain birding, and Arizona in June was phenomenal. HOT, but some fantastic birds, including Flame-colored Tanager and Rose-throated Beccard. Ornithology proved to be a rewarding experience, and this year definitely saw me doing more “social birding” then my typical lone gunman approach. Also, had a really great pelagic out of Santa Barbara, that was memorable. Also have to give a mention to the purchase of my first scope, a costly if worthwhile purchase
In regards to other organisms, I managed to see several new herps, as well as adding a few more whales and squirrels to the lifelist. Elephant Seals at a rookery was definitely a highlight.
Now, to conclude with some specific “highlights” from the last year:
Coolest bird of 2006: Streak-backed Oriole
“Best” bird of 2006: Blue-footed Booby, with the Oriole and Flame-colored Tanager close seconds
Nemesis Bird: Ruddy Ground-Dove (7 attempts!)
Coolest Mammal: Elephant Seal
Coolest Herp: Ornate Box Turtle