I was out birding in Salem County with group of friends over the weekend. We had a good time but, with this group, we always seem to have a good time when we’re out birding together.
A couple of us are doing a big year and, as you would imagine, there was a lot of discussion about birds we had seen, birds we are looking for, and birds we’ve missed this year.
Lots of questions from our friends. Are you glad you decided to do a big year? “Yes”.
Are you having a good time? “Yes”.
Are you glad that it is almost over? “Yes.”
Having never attempted a year-long hobby project, I started out my New Jersey Big Year not really knowing what to expect or how it would go. I knew that there would be lots and lots of competing priorities, between family and work and other interests. Looking back over the year, I got that part right.
I figured I would need to chase a lot of rare birds. I got that part right, too! I’ve driven well over 7000 miles this year while birding – without leaving New Jersey! And I have birded places that, in some cases, I had never even heard of before this year.
Some of my closest friends were concerned that a big year would leave me burnt out on birding. With six birding weekends left in 2013 (yes, only six weekends left in this year – I know), I am not burnt out. But I can also say with certainty that I am glad My New Jersey Big Year is coming to a close. I am already planning my final birding adventure for the year and, honestly, I feel almost as excited as I did for my first big year birding trip on January 1st!
During the past few weeks, I’ve received e-mail messages with questions from folks who are thinking about doing their own big year. I can say without reservation – Do It! If you’re going to do a big year, though, be honest with yourself about the amount of time you are willing to devote to birding. And, if you have a family, kids, grandkids, a job, other hobbies – cut that birding time by half. You may have more, or you may have less, but being realistic about the time you spend birding will reduce the likelihood that you’ll stress over “going after the good bird” verses “going to the ________________”. And you’ll be surprised how many events will pop up that will help you fill in that blank.
As this post’s title suggests, I really do feel that I am coming down the home stretch. My marathon birding event is coming to an end and the finish line is now within sight.
I hope you’ll come along with me as I finish My New Jersey Big Year.
Until next time, Good Birding!