|A California Condor surveying the land, one of my favorite species of 2010|
|Up close and personal with a Golden Eagle|
According to Ebird I entered 331 checklists and recorded 477 species, blowing away my previous record of 405 species (2009). The amazing part is that I got paid to see a good number of those species! I worked field jobs in California, Tennessee and New Jersey, with a 3 week long excursion through the southwest providing close to 50 life birds and innumerable memories.
The year started out strong in January with daily excursions on two wildlife refuges in Southern California while tracking endangered California Condors. The Condors were my overall favorite, spectacular to watch as they fed, played and picked out nesting sites, but numerous other birds captured my interest. Highlights were Loggerheaded Shrikes, Sage Sparrows, Le Contes Thrashers, Ferruginous Hawks and my lifer California Thrasher.
|Record shot of my lifer 1st cycle Glaucous Gull|
|It wasn't all about birds..|
|A nest full of Cactus Wrens|
|Same bird, this time showing off its coppery tail|
|A Violet-crowned Hummingbird sharing the feeder with a Broad-billed Hummingbird at the Legendary Paton's Yard in Arizona|
|A Gray Hawk nonchalantly perched on the side of the road.|
|Oh to live somewhere where Mexican Jays are feeder birds!|
|The Chisos Mountains, hogging all the rain.|
world: Gone was the heat, the sun and the bareness of the desert. This was a land of fog and cloud, rain and mist, moss and flowers. Streams gurgled, rocks towers teetered and the fog was alive with birdsong; Mexican Jays, Painted Redstarts, gnatcatchers and hummingbirds and juncos followed everywhere I went, as if in curiosity of this two legged creature so foolishly intruding upon their domain.
|(Mountain) lions and tigers and bears, oh my!|
South Texas was exhilarating and scary and wonderful all at once. Border violence compelled me to skip some spots, but I still managed Muscovy Duck, Green Jay, Plain Chachalaca, Altimira Oriole, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, and Fulvous Whistling-Duck among others. A Clay-colored Thrush building a nest was a special treat, as was 10,000 Broad-winged Hawks streaming north out of Mexico. Continuing up the coast, I picked up White-tailed Hawk, Aplomado Falcon, and a plethora of shorebirds and songbirds. High Island was my last stop on the trip and it yielded warblers dripping out of the the trees and a chaotic heron rookery with spoonbills and Wood Storks and Great Egrets all arguing for space and doing their best to avoid the alligators cruising the water beneath their nests.
|One of my favorite birds of prey, the ever proud Crested Caracara.|
|A baby gator tried to block my path, but was quickly bypassed.|
|The Goose Island Oak, the largest tree in Texas!|
|A female Cerulean Warbler defending her fledgling.|
|A busy day of hawk watching.|
|Fork-tailed Flycatcher, about 3500 miles from home.|
Alas, December rolled in and that was the end of serious birding as snow and bitter cold blanketed NY. It was a year that defied all my expectations, and I can only hope all my birding adventures are half as successful as this year was. I don't know that I'll try to break my record again this year, but someday I'll finally break 500 in a year.
|The close of 2010 was spent at home, getting reacquainted with my feeder birds.|