In the world of birdwatching, upon the fringes of which I reside, there's a popular term known simply as the "Big Year". The idea, without getting too in-depth, is to record the name of every species of bird one encounters in a calendar year. There are also Big Days (you do the math), but the prospects of spending from 3am to 11pm hunting for wild birds seems a bit out of reach for a guy like me with family obligations and such. In hindsight, 2007 probably would have been a better choice for me to embark on this quest, given the variety of travel we did. There are at least 15 species I can recall from St. John alone that I have no chance of seeing again this year (Bananaquit, Zenaida Dove, etc.) Add to that the Ding Darling NWR in Sanibel, FL and the total I'm unlikely to see again in 2008 easily rises above 30. But with each new year comes an increasing interest in birding, and the Big Year idea will be my chance to really quantify how much I've learned and evaluate my identification skills. Currently I rely heavily on my equipment to help me identify the species I encounter, as time is usually not long and I can't spend the time it takes in the field to identify what I see. But that's the beauty of technology. A good telephoto lens and a high-resolution camera allow you to do the thinking inside the house, leaving outdoor time free to spend hunting.
So for now, that's the plan. Starting January 1st, I will list every species I can positively identify on the side of the blog, and once a week (or so) I'll recount the experiences and locations of the birds. My goal, while modest, will be to record 150 species in 2008. I'll most certainly re-evaluate that goal a few times depending on what our travel plans look like, etc. The more different places we can visit, the better my chances of hitting or exceeding that goal. I'll also try to include as many photos as possible of the more unusual sightings, just for good measure. Wish me luck!