2012 Essex County Big Year in Review

If you’ve been following this blog you know that early last year I set a goal for myself to see and be able to ID 250 birds in Essex County within one year.  Well as you probably know, I was successful… and then some.  I actually ended the year at 261.  No record of course but I don’t think it was too shabby for my first official year-and-a-half of birding!  In case you’re interested, here’s the complete list of the birds that I saw.

What was the Best Bird of 2012?

iBinned – Magnificent Frigatebird

I get asked a lot about what was my best bird and that’s a tough one.  For me, it was more about being out there – looking, listening, and learning.  Some of the highlights for me included re-finding the Bell’s Vireo, sitting in the parking lot and waiting for the Chuck-will’s-widow to start calling, a self-found Cerulean Warbler, and a late-ish Virginia Rail found in Marsh this past Fall.  The greatest thing about 2012 was that a lot of birds that I saw and ID’d were completely new birds for me.

My favourite bird of the year, unfortunately did not count for my ‘big year’.  This was the Magnificent Frigatebird at Rondeau.  This one was more about the experience.  I got to share this bird with Josh Vandermeulen, his girlfriend Laura, and my wife Sarah.  The long, sweaty walk down the beach was totally worth it — just wish it would have made it’s way down to Pelee!

A Tourist in my Own Backyard

Birding at the Sewage Lagoons

When I set out to ‘see what I could see’ in Essex County, I didn’t realize how much of the area I had never seen before.  I grew up in the county but there were some areas that I had never been to or even knew existed.  I was a tourist in my own backyard and it was fantastic.  I’m looking forward to heading out to some of those spots again this year but this time more for fun. I still find it weird though to say – “Sewage Lagoons are a great spot to check out!”

One of my new favourite spots, aside from Point Pelee of course, is Pelee Island.  Sure, it’s not always the easiest place to get to but there are some amazing habitats on the island.  If you’ve never been, you definitely need to check it out.  I know I’ll be heading over at some point this year – and not just for the wine.

What about 2013?

I’ve been asked if I’ve set a new goal for this year.  The answer is absolutely.  I only have one goal for this year – enjoy every bird I see this year and not worry about numbers.  I don’t regret setting a goal for 2012 (and then foolishly revising it higher when I met it) because it forced me to get out and to learn, but at times I wasn’t really enjoying it.  I was getting frustrated because I wasn’t finding new birds.  I know this is part of birding but when I set a goal, I am too stubborn not to reach it.  This frustration was the worst on December 30th – stuck at 259 for weeks.  I had crisscrossed the county for days in search of one more bird but was getting skunked.  Thanks again to Alan & Richard for finding that Purple Sandpiper and Iceland Gull on the 31st – it made my year!

This year is going to be a little different on a completely different front.  We’ve got a “birder”, I mean bun in the oven!  We’ve been researching strollers that will be suitable for the trails – so if you have any advice, please send it along!  This baby is going to be a birder from day 1 I think!

Baby’s First Bins

A Big Thank You

The birds were fantastic last year but the best thing about the year was all the great friendships that I’ve made.  Pretty much everyone I met was willing to teach me everything they know.  I can’t express how thankful I am for the guidance and advice I received. I can’t wait to get out there again with all of you this year!

A Few Other Pics from the Year…

Great Egret Roost – Holiday Beach
Sanderling – Point Pelee

Prothonotary Warbler
Sarah in the Fog at Pelee
Black-crowned Night Herons – Holiday Beach

Good Birding!


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