Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Recap

As I wrote towards the end of last month's recap, I approached March with pretty low expectations. I'm now wondering if it will end up being the most important month of the year for me. What sticks out to me as I think about the month as a whole is the five Illinois lifers and two ABA lifers, none of which I was counting on for my Illinois year list.

It began with a crazy influx of Red-necked Grebes at the beginning of my Spring Break,

got better when I found this Golden Eagle while watching the single largest flock of birds I've ever seen,

and got even better when this Barrow's Goldeneye showed up (in my 4 County Patch, no less!).

And then I racked up the ABA lifers with a couple Smith's Longspurs, ABA #530 and World #650 for me. Then the Little Gull happened - I'm still in shock over this bird.

The month ended with a nice addition of 15 birds to the year list on a quick trip to Carlyle and back.

All these great birds, yet one of the highlights of the month was undoubtedly getting to spend time with this gorgeous Long-tailed Duck. It's on my list of top five photos I've ever taken, a spot it will likely never surrender:

And now, the recap by the numbers: I saw exactly 92 birds in both January and February, and ended that two month segment with 110. In March, I saw 122 birds, 32 of which were new for 2014, bringing my total to 142 at this point. On my spreadsheet, you can see that I've already taken care of 7 of my Tier 3-4 birds - in my mind I was hoping for at least 6 all year! My initial high-end goal for the end of my March/April segment was 170, though now it looks like 180 is a distinct possibility. At the county level, Will continues to be my primary contributor, though my numbers are improving elsewhere as Illinois melts and open water is more readily available.

On the broader scale, all these state lifers brought my Illinois list up to 299! With the birds I'll be targeting in April, I have a pretty good feeling about #300 coming in the next couple weeks, but what will it be??? I hit a good number of new counties (something I'll continue to prioritize), bringing my total ticks up to 3,298. Several hundred more are hopefully on the way this month.

In my 4 County Patch (Kane, Cook, Will, DuPage) competition with my dad and uncle, I'm up to 117, my uncle in Texas has 121, and my dad in Washington has 120. I had no idea this was going to be such a close race! We'll have to see what kind of impact April has on our geographically separate regions.

ABA: 165

Illinois: 142

Counties (over 50)
Will: 88
Kane: 72
DuPage: 71
Clinton: 71
Cook: 68
Grundy: 67
DeWitt: 59
Sangamon: 56
McLean: 54
LaSalle: 51
Tazwell: 51