Tuesday, 12 July 2016

BIG Year logistics

At the risk of boring you still further I thought I'd post a few thoughts about a topic that I've already flagged up as personally fascinating. I've got to do something while I'm sat here. It's your fault Phil!

I've been reading the main contenders Blogs these last couple of days, comparing their strategies. In some weird way it gives me a sense of (minor) participation?!

Money can't be an issue, neither can wife tolerance...they must be Angels!!!

Where to be...when?

Certain decisions are simple...
  • Go for EVERY MEGA asap
  • Visit all Alaskan hotspots with Tours
  • Sort out your Pelagic schedule and book early
Ah, but maybe not so simple? You can't chase birds in the lower 48 when your stuck on Attu but then again your racking up some MEGA's that you won't get anywhere else in your Year. So what's the biggest component after good planning...



Fly-by Seabirds - Tropicbirds
Owl/Nightjar stake outs

Comparing lists with past attempts is futile for me as many things have changed since Sandy Komito's two attempts many moons ago. I have both books and have met the guy on numerous occasions in Texas. The ABA list has increased due to splits and information is far easier to obtain today. So let's just enjoy the Blogs of these two intrepid listers, not judge them or be jealous and may the best man win...

Oh and you also need plenty of Stamina...
You won't be surprised to hear that I won't be participating in a Big Year! However I will continue to try and increase my ABA life list on subsequent visits. My current total now stands at 685 as I collected an armchair tick the other day in the form of Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay. Western has been split into this form and California. I have my own views as always but follow the powers that be even if they publish quotes like this...
"geography plays a huge role–perhaps the only role–in the ID process"

Quite an ID challenge!?
Below is a list of birds I still "need"...
Category 1
Red Crossbill
Category 2
Emperor Goose
Himalayan Snowcock
Greater Prarie Chicken
Common Ringed Plover
Wood Sandpiper
Bristle-thighed Curlew
Bar-tailed Godwit
Thayers Gull
Iceland Gull
Red-legged Kittiwake
Least Auklet
Whiskered Auklet
Crested Auklet
White Wagtail
Smith's Longspur
McKay's Bunting
White-winged Crossbill

Category 3
Bean Goose
Whooper Swan
Common Pochard
Tufted Duck
Masked Duck
Lesser Sand-Plover
Terek Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Gray-tailed Tattler
Common Greenshank
Black-tailed Godwit
Red-necked Stint 
Temminck’s Stint
Long-toed Stint
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Common Snipe
Black-headed Gull
Ross’s Gull
Ivory Gull
Black Noddy
Common Cuckoo
Yellow-green Vireo
Gray-headed Chickadee
Siberian Rubythroat
Eyebrowed Thrush
Rufous-backed Robin
Olive-backed Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Rustic Bunting

Alaska in Bold - some of the others possible there but could also be seen elsewhere
SP - Saint Paul Island (Probilofs)
Red Crossbill is what the Americans call a nemesis bird for me...I just can't connect with one!
So, there you are. My future trips will be based around these birds plus obtaining additional ticks in my beloved Texas starting on Nov 28th. A three week pre-Christmas break should be just the ticket. I have a few winter birds to chase for my State list. I might even fluke an ABA tick...if I get some LUCK!
PS. I would love to experience the adventure to ATTU before I pop my clogs...

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