I have spent the last couple days reflecting on My New Jersey Big Year, what I accomplished, and what I learned about birding and myself.
I was able to bird in all 21 New Jersey counties at least once – driving almost 9000 miles along the way. To add some perspective to that number – the approximate distance from the Eastern Coast of the US to the Western Coast is about 3000 miles. I drove the equivalent of three coast-to-coast trips without leaving New Jersey.
I managed to see 310 bird species plus a Eurasian Teal which I found, much to my surprise, doesn’t count as a full species (according to eBird). Apparently, Green-winged Teal is considered a sub-species of Eurasian Teal – go figure – so you can count one but not both! Don’t get me wrong – It was still very cool to finally see a Eurasian Teal.
I didn’t bird every day, but I submitted nearly 230 checklists to eBird during 2013. My most commonly visited location, with 40 checklists and 104 species, was Charles Rogers Wildlife Refuge in Princeton.
I hope that I have raised awareness about New Jersey Audubon’s research efforts and, especially, their Citizen Science program. I simply cannot say enough good things about the amazing people at New Jersey Audubon. Please, if you are not already a member, consider joining the over 22,000 people who make up New Jersey Audubon.
Another goal of My New Jersey Big Year was to raise money, through (tax-deductible) pledges and donations, for the Citizen Science program. I am thrilled to announce we reached (and surpassed) our goal of $10,000. To everyone who made a pledge or donation – THANK YOU!! For everyone else, there is still time to make a tax-deductible donation !
Some things I learned along the way – I certainly have a much more complete picture of birding in New Jersey and the amazing variety of habitats that makes our state one of the very best birding locations in the world.
And I have learned that I am not a chaser or lister. To the large and active segment of the birding population who enjoys chasing and/or listing – I get it. There is something to be said for the thrill of the chase. And listing all those sightings can provide a sense of accomplishment, particularly as the year comes to a close and you look back at all that you’ve done.
However, something a “non-chasing” birding friend said a few months ago still resonates with me and will help to inform my future approach to bird watching. Basically, she commented that her approach to birding was to “put herself in good habitat and then see what she would see”. That makes perfect sense to me. As another friend puts it – I plan to do more “Zen birding” going forward.
Thank you to everyone who has provided me with encouragement, tips on the locations of birds, suggestions, or shown an active interest in my Big Year.
Finally – a huge THANK YOU to my family and friends for your support, encouragement, and (at times) understanding. Without a doubt – I could not have done this without you.