I spent the last Sunday in January at Machimoodus Park in East Haddam. I hoped to add a few new birds to my list but the only new species I found was a Common Raven. It was being chased around by a handful of American Crows.
It was a pleasant winter morning with plenty of sunshine. There was a slight breeze which the Bald eagles soon took advantage of. I saw two young eagles and two adults. They were playing a few aerial games with each other which was interesting to watch.
Later that morning I took a ride to Lebanon to look for a Harris Sparrow which had been reported several times over the past couple of weeks ( thanks to Annie & Mike Perko for finding it). I met two other birders at the sight where it had been reported most recently. We waited patiently as we watched White-throated, Song, and American Tree Sparrows ground feeding under a bush. After about 20 minutes the Harris Sparrow showed up. That turned out to be the last new species I added to my January list. I kept looking for species that I thought would be relatively easy to find like Brown-headed Cowbird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Brown Creeper but it just wasn't to be.
My personal goal for this year was to try to find 90 species in January and to use less gasoline than I had in previous years. I knew that I had missed the mark but didn't realize how close I came until I did the final tally. My final species count for the month was 88, just 2 short! The whole big January thing is only a game for me but missing it by just 2 does bother me just a little bit. That should give me added motivation for next year.
5 Reasons I Missed My Mark In Big January:
- Too much talking not enough birding: Four of the species on my Big January list were birds that had been reported on the rare bird report. I met other listers at each site that were looking for the same bird and spent several hours conversing with them after already finding the target species. I enjoyed the conversations but If I had spent that time birding I might have added two more species to the list.
- False Sense Of Security: I hit 70 species in the first week so I figured it would be a breeze adding 20 more to my lisy by the end of the month. Wrong!
- Self imposed gas cap: I don't regret this one. I set a limit as to how many gallons of gas I was willing to use which probably meant fewer birds
- Not teaming up with other birders: In past years I teamed up with other birders who were very determined January listers. I missed the motivation and experience they provided.
- The birds were different this year: Each year I take it for granted that I'm going to find certain species in particular areas. Some of the species I was counting on weren't around this January. At least not where I would expect to find them.