I’ve never been a “lister”. I’ve never been one of those birders whose obsession is their life list, their state list, their yard list, etc. If you tell me a bird species, I can tell you whether I’ve seen it before, if I’ve photographed it, and where. But I have no idea what my species “count” is, either for sight or photographs.
For background…in 2012, I did much less birding than I’ve done since I started birding in 2000. Part of it was time and other issues, but a lot too is that it’s hard to get motivated to go out and take photos of the same species that I already have 100 photos of. I did miss getting out in 2012 though, so have vowed 2013 would be different. For motivation? I am now starting a ‘Big Year’!!
For many outside the birding community, the term “Big Year” may likely bring to mind the recent movie with Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson, where 3 obsessed birders try to set the record for most North American bird species seen in one year. That’s the general idea for me too, but modified significantly! First of all, I’m calling it a “(Not so) Big Year”. I’m not going nuts. I’m not going to travel to all corners of the country, or even in South Dakota. Secondly, it’s a “Photo” big year. I simply plan to get out and see how many different bird species I can photograph in South Dakota in 2013, without turning it into an obsessive quest, ala what was seen in The Big Year movie.
I already can see it’s going to be fun! Instead of watching college football all day on New Year’s, I instead went birding on the grasslands in the central part of the state. While I normally would ignore most species that I already have plenty of photographs for, I found myself actually CHASING some common birds to try to get a 2013 photo. Last year, I don’t think I would have thought twice about the scads of Ring-necked Pheasants, Horned Larks, or Lapland Longspurs I came across, but yesterday, it was fun trying to get a documented 2013 photo for even the “common” species.
A good start to the year! The highlight was coming across a Snowy Owl towards the end of the day, definitely a nice one to get a photo of for a “Photo big year”. I also managed photos of a Townsend’s Solitaire, a pretty uncommon site around here, and most of the “winter” raptors that are found in the central part of the state at this time of year. We’ll see where it takes me, and how many different species I can photograph this year! Here’s the page where I’ll keep things updated…