Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Goals

At last, 2013 draws to a close. I rounded out the year with a cloudy, damp morning of birding with my dad around the Spokane area. It was rather quiet, but after some extended effort we did get a distant but clear response from a Northern Pygmy Owl, state year bird #221 and ABA #368! I was not expecting to snag two year birds in the final two days of the year at all, what a great way to end! As that soft, steady whistle seeped through a mixed coniferous forest, I had surpassed my previous year's total by 59 species, and my thoughts officially turned to the year ahead.

And now, the goals for 2014. My top priority is to find 300 birds in Illinois. I'm not going to try to set any state big year records, I just want to hit 300, which is a benchmark number in the state that only a handful of people hit each year. My next priority is to get 450 in the ABA area. Between Illinois, a couple stints in the northwest, and a trip with my dad in May to southeast Arizona, 450 is a conservative number, 460 is likely, and 475 would be ridiculous. My out of state travels will make 300 in Illinois more difficult, so a good start the first few months of the year will be crucial. Also, I'm ending this year with 528 on my ABA life list, and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to pass the 550 mark in 2014!

Additionally, my dad, uncle and I are doing a challenge in the four counties closest to us in our respective states. In Texas, my uncle Dell is doing Henderson, Anderson, Freestone, and Navarro. In Washington, my dad is covering Spokane, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, and Steven's. And I'll be doing DuPage, Cook, Will, and Kane. With this competition in mind, I'm hoping to get 200 birds in each of the four counties, and I'd love to get 85-90% of my birds in Illinois within that region. Both of those are pretty lofty goals, and I'm really intrigued to see how it pans out.

It feels a little surreal to be just hours away from starting a year in which I'll see more birds than I've ever seen in a 365 day period. I've done quite a bit of planning for it already (check out the "Illinois 2014" tab above), and have much work yet to do.

I'll be beginning the year with 5 days in Washington. We begin in less than seven hours, so I'm going to ring in the new year by going to sleep. Can't wait for January 1, when every bird counts again!