Day 296 – “…the wayyy-ting is the hardest part…”

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I’ve had a lot of time these past 2 weeks to reflect on my Big Year. I want to devote this post to answering some of the top questions that I get asked regularly.

1. How come the Stoll brothers are still ahead of you? I have spent this entire year focused on my own goals and trying very hard not to make it solely about competition. All 3 of us have put forth a monumental effort. As of this week, I was tied at 747 with Victor and Ruben, in the original ABA Region. Including Hawaii,they are ahead at 803 versus 784 for me. I have only been to the Big Island so far. November first, I will go back again for 2 weeks.

2. What birds do you have left to see? In the continental U.S. and Canada, I only need the following:
-Yellow Rail-I will be in Louisiana 10/26.
-Common Ringed Plover-probably a miss by now.
-Smith’s Longspur-Oklahoma in Dec.
-McKay’s Bunting-Nome in December.

All other possibilities would be rarities.

3. What was your favorite bird? Ironically, my 3 favorite birds were all Gulls. To say that I didn’t “love” Gulls prior to 2017 would be an understatement. Another Big Year surprise!

4. How much did it cost? A lot. I will save this number for my talks next year. I’m within budget, though.

5. How many miles have you traveled? Over 90,000 air miles and more than 25,000 miles by car. Have not calculated miles walked yet.

6. How long did it take for you to plan your year? It took me about a year to decide, but the only things I planned were a trip to California in January and a trip to Attu in May. The rest developed organically.

As always, thank you for following my journey.

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  1. james says:

    Thanks for the post. This answered some of my questions. Oof the Common Ringed Plover looks pretty bleak. One record on eBird in the ABA area from Oct-Dec =, and it was in 1989. I’m surprised you haven’t seen a Dovekie. I don’t know too much about them, but aren’t they a fairly common pelagic bird?

  2. James says:


    1. TheDancjngBirder says:

      Yes! There will probably be others. I’m headed to Hswaii Tuesday morning so not sure I can chase this one.

  3. Jared Gorrell says:

    Your Big Year has inspired me to go for 300 species in the US this year. As of today, I am at 290. I love reading your blog… No matter what numbers you get, this is still an amazing achievement.

    1. The Dancing Birder says:

      Jared, thank you for following, before I did my Big Year, my numbers were not great. Keep it up! 300 is awesome if you can’t go far from where you live.

  4. David says:

    Greetings from Alaska
    Olive-backed Pipit in Seward 10/28. Not seen since but if it ever gets cold and hapitat becomes frozen it may reappear
    Hawfinch (which I know you don’t “need”) and Dusky Thrush in Kenai last week. The latter hasn’t been refound but probably still in area. Might want do your McKay’s swat team action early.

    1. The Dancing Birder says:

      McKay’s in December!

  5. Sam Fried says:

    Yve, it was great to meet you on a rice harvesting combine in Louisiana! What a coincidence that yellow rail was your 749th species for the year was also my 749th photographed species for the ABA area of North America! Good luck in your quest and no matter what, as Chris Montez said many years ago, “Keep on dancing'”!

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