There are things I’d hoped to do this year that just aren’t going to happen. No pelagic trip, no 3-day excursion to Cape May (*sigh*), no new binoculars (*really deep sigh*). Ah well. Life goes on. and birds go on all around me.
Richard Fried set a new NYS record with 352 birds last year. My year list isn’t nearly as impressive (OK, I only have 212 birds on my state life list) but I made some shiny additions. Three trips to Montezuma NWR gave me Sandhill Cranes — 16 the last time we looked! — Black Terns, Trumpeter and Tundra Swans, several Sandpipers, and a really life-worthy look at an American Bittern. The Cohoes White Pelican that hung around for weeks was a standout I don’t expect to see again soon. New habitats like the Fort Edward grasslands brought great looks at a light-morph Rough-legged Hawk. In all I added 15 species to my state list. Not bad, considering I can’t just go dashing off to Suffolk County for a Mountain Bluebird, or a shopping mall in Ithaca for a Snowy Owl, just two recent state sightings.
I can’t responsibly do a Big Year, even a state one. Nevertheless, I’m restarting my counter at Bird Zero today and keeping a tally for the year. I hope that by taking advantage of the local birding institutional memory and all the day trips I can manage, I can bring my Small Year to a respectable total. What will that number be? I can’t even guess. But as of right now, 1/1/12, 9:38 AM, my count stands at 9. What a wonderful year ahead!