January 100 Species Challenge

Well January is finally, and mercifully over for this valiant birder. For my last day in January I wanted to try Cowen Lake State Park and see if any new ducks were there. Well the lake is still frozen over and except for a patch of some Canadian Geese and a couple lone Bald eagles sitting on the ice, the park was a big bust when it came to new birds.

It was while I was about to change location when Jon called me and said he was on his way to Caesar Creek and wanted to know if I’d meet him. “Sure, why not”.

We met up and after several hours of driving around I was able to tick off 2 more birds for my January list, which now gives me a grand total of 70 birds. Not very good considering the birds I missed, which I shouldn’t have.

Well there’s always next year, just like the Red’s.

  1. Purple Finch
  2. Bonaparte’s Gull



January 100 Species Challenge

Despite the fact that this blog post may be a few days late, I’m just glad I remembered before I went out of town to Michigan this weekend to visit my daughter and son-in-law.

Last weekend had me traveling to both Fernald Preserve and Gilmore Ponds. And since I have some serious holes in my January list I had to make the most of this long weekend.

Unfortunately I was only able to tick off 6 new species, which now brings my total for the month to a paltry 68.

  1. Brown-headed Cowbird
  2. Bald Eagle
  3. Herring Gull
  4. Pine Siskin
  5. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  6. American Pipit


Big Year Blogs

At the beginning of every new year I search for new blogs that follow the exploits of the big year birder. Last year it was Noah Stryker and his record setting world big year, and this year I’ve found 3 blogs which I’ll follow. In the past the most big year blogs I’ll follow at one time is two, however the format that each big year birder is using this time is a little different.

The first “Big Year Blog” I’m following is “Olaf’s Bad Weather Big Year” This is your traditional big year. One man against the elements, time, flight delays, bad luck, good luck, bad hotels, and equally bad hotels, chasing after the record total of ABA birds in North America.

With impressive numbers so far, and loads of pictures, it can be a struggle reading this blog. I don’t consider myself the best of writers by any stretch of the imagination, however I do re-read each blog post and try to correct any spelling or grammar error. It would do Olaf well to click on the “spelling and grammar check” button prior to publishing.

Despite that, it’s a great little blog and well worth following, just for the sake of seeing how close he gets to Neil Hayward, and Sandy Komito.

The next big year blog I’m following is “Lynn Barber’s Alaska Big Year“. This is the one I’m most interested in. If you’re not familiar with Lynn Barber, she’s one outstanding birder. Besides being a  regular contributor to the “ABA Blog“, she did a Texas Big Year in 2003, and 2005, where her record of 522 species still stands. Her ABA Big Year in 2008 produced 723 species. Her book “Extreme Birder: One Women’s Big Year” takes the reader on her ABA Big Year as she recounts that incredible year. And in 2011, while a resident of South Dakota, she posted 350 species for her SD Big Year.

Now she’s living in Alaska and doing her Alaska Big year, while I eagerly await for each and every posting. I would highly recommend this blog to follow, especially if you only have time to follow one blog, this would be the one.

The 3rd and final blog is really different than any big years I’ve heard of, and it’s being brought to you by none other than Greg Miller. Yes, the same Greg Miller who  who was one of the three main characters in the book and movie titled “The Big Year”.  But this time Greg is doing his big year a little differently. Instead of traveling all over North America willy-nilly searching frantically for every bird, including rarities, he’s doing his big year as a series of 11 tours. Titled “Greg Miller: 2016 Big Year Tours“, Greg has set up these tours so others can join him for a week of all out birding fun. Each tour destination has already been determined, with a set price $1,750.00 per tour. You do save a few bucks if you book multiple tours. And with the first tour finished, their Southern California leg netted them 208 species. Quite a respectable number.

So this is what I’m reading this year, how about you?


January 100 Species Challenge

Two trips out into the cold this weekend yielded me an additional 6 new birds for January. Saturday I visited Fernald Preserve, which is a sure thing to find Northern Harriers and clean up on a few ducks absent from the list. Then Sunday I was off to Gilmore Ponds where I struck out totally on any new birds. Other than any deep reservoir or quarry will be totally ice free, everything else from what I’ve observed are all frozen over.

  1. Northern Shoveler
  2. Ring-necked Duck
  3. Mute Swan
  4. Northern Harrier
  5. Savannah Sparrow
  6. Brown Creeper

Total for January: 63

January 100 Species Challenge

Grand Valley Preserve, Valley View Preserve, Armleder Park, & Various Gravel Quarries 

Being only the second weekend in January, and with the change in the weather looming with rain turning to snow overnight the need to get out an do some birding was imperative if I was going to make a dent into this 100 species challenge.

And since 2 eyes are always better than one I picked up Jon at 8:00 am and once again re-visited some of the same locations David and I went to last Saturday. So instead of boring you with all the details of the day, I’ll give you a run down of the species seen.

  1. American Wigeon
  2. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  3. Hairy Woodpecker
  4. Field Sparrow
  5. White-crowned Sparrow
  6. Great Blue Heron
  7. Redhead
  8. Common Loon
  9. Green-winged Teal
  10. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  11. Great Horned Owl

January total to date: 57 species

IMG_4109Field Sparrow

IMG_4116Black Vulture kettle

IMG_4125American Tree Sparrow

IMG_4127White-crowned Sparrow

January 100 Species Challenge

A few years back I drove to Armleder Park to try and pick up my lifer Short-eared Owl. The local buzz in the birding world was that it was a dependable location as long as you waited it out till evening. So one evening I waited and got some pretty terrible looks at some Short-eared Owls as the flew around the park. But it was a lifer, so I ticked it off.

Since then I’ve seen them around the Tri-state, and actually close to a dozen a few years back when I first made my January 100 species.


So yesterday I made my way back to Armleder Park after work in hopes of seeing some more. Once again the buzz around town was that they were pretty consistent right after sun down. So as I waited with frozen feet, 10 other birders were waited for when the owls left the cover of the overgrown field and took to the air.

And they did, all 8 of them. Unfortunately since I didn’t have my camera, no photos.

     46. Short-eared Owl

More news!

As you now the American Birding Association has this wonderful blog. And every week or so they post a Rare Bird Alert for all over the country. Well guess who’s photo from my own Flickr page made the alert page with the Western Grebe I located last weekend.

I hate to gloat, but I’m rather proud of the find.  The URL for the ABA Blog is below.