Completely happy New Year, 10,000 Birds readers and writers, listers and photographers, pals and fellow vacationers close to and much! Writing a submit scheduled for January 1st for a birding weblog is an enormous duty. On the primary of the yr, each chook is a brand new hen! For me, it’s one of probably the most thrilling days of the yr, and so I’m going to place apart the ebook evaluation I’ve been crafting and speak about my favourite, greatest, prime ten birds of 2018 (with a private addition on the finish). Thus far, we’ve heard from Patrick and Clare on their greatest fowl(s); I hope you’ll add yours within the feedback.
It was a United States lower-48 birding yr for me. I birded parks, landfills, fields, backyards, skies, oceans, lakes, ponds, and roads in 15 states–some acquainted haunts and patches, some as half of household visits, some whereas passing by way of, some adventures with pals (three journeys with N.J. Audubon, one with the Queens County Hen Membership). There’s a problem to choosing your prime birds in a yr with out overseas journey—there are few apparent decisions, and you should give extra thought to what birds have been significant, and why. It’s additionally robust if you don’t have photographs or, even worse, you’ve got dangerous photographs. But, 2018 was a really particular yr for me, as you’ll see should you learn to the top.[If, for some reason, you want to see my full 2018, with lots of photos, it can be read here, or you can click on the year list links (for my list and other 10,000 Birds writers) at the bottom of every 10,000 Birds page.]
10. Snowy Owl, Lengthy Island, NYS
This was a particular Snowy Owl encounter in a yr of many Snowy Owls. Turning into the parking zone of a Lengthy Island seashore on a February afternoon, I noticed one thing white fly previous me. The half of my mind targeted on driving dismissed it as a gull. The intuitive half of my mind shouted, “That was no gull, dummy, stop!” It was, certainly, a Snowy Owl. I drove to the opposite finish of the lot and watched the owl fly again to its meal, smack within the center of the empty lot. How typically does one have a Snowy Owl all to at least one’s self? Not lengthy—I took pictures utilizing the automotive as a blind after which left to fowl the seashore. That Owl had a gull to eat, and it wasn’t sharing.
9. Mandarin Duck, Central Park, NYS
It is rather attainable that Mike and Corey will penalize me for together with the Mandarin Duck–also called the “Hot Duck,” “Mandy” solely to vacationers and the Gothamist–on this listing, however its superstar can’t be ignored. For some purpose, despite the fact that there are Mandarin Geese in zoos all through New York Metropolis, this escapee has turn out to be an internationally recognized vacationer attraction, even heading the New York Occasions listing of “Five Times the Internet Was Actually Fun in 2018.” (For one rationalization of the duck’s look, learn Corey’s journalistic coup, Operation Duck Drop.) I feel it stays to be seen if the rationale for not scorning the Scorching Duck holds up, the reasoning being that seeing this remarkably plumaged and formed fowl will make individuals extra conscious and appreciative of nature, probably even convincing them to help funding for extra pure habitat and fewer improvement. Within the meantime, it’s an excellent matter for vacation household gatherings. No one however a birder is focused on an Ash-throated Flycatcher. Everyone needs to know concerning the Scorching Duck.
eight. Grey Kingbird, Jones Seashore, NYS
A one-day marvel—truly extra like a Three-hour marvel—this Grey Kingbird was discovered by two associates at Jones Seashore on a November morning. It gave these of us who have been fortunate sufficient to be in place to get to the location shortly nice views for a couple of minutes after which flew off. Grey Kingbirds are uncommon in NYS and once they present up, it’s often upstate, so this was a really comfortable rarity (and state fowl) in a month of a number of Lengthy Island rarities.
7. Harris’s Sparrow, Central Park, NYC
This hen was an exquisite shock. It confirmed up in Central Park on the day of the NYC Marathon, one other one-day marvel. Ordinarily, I might not have been in Manhattan, however my mother and I’ve a practice of watching the marathon collectively from her house on Manhattan’s East aspect. Now, if you understand NYC geography and its transit system, you’ll know that it isn’t all the time straightforward to get from the East aspect to the West aspect, the place the Harris’s Sparrow was situated. Think about marathon followers and the marathoners themselves flooding the streets, subway automobiles, and buses within the late afternoon, and a few confusion on the place precisely the sparrow was situated within the park (Handball courts? Who knew there have been handball courts in Central Park?), and you might perceive what an achievement it was to see this fowl. (Fortunately, my mother understood once I ditched her.) Because of useful Central Park birders, I discovered the Harris’s Sparrow shortly earlier than it turned too darkish to take pictures with my little point-and-shoot. I really like sparrows and I’ve not seen many Harris’s Sparrows in my birding lifetime, so it was an actual deal with to watch this one with my Central Park buddies.
6. Night Grosbeak, Michigan
There’s a fantastic place within the decrease peninsula of Michigan referred to as Hartwick Pines State Park. It’s one of the one locations in Michigan the place you’ll be able to stroll beneath previous progress white pines. That is additionally the place I noticed a female and male Night Grosbeak for the primary time in over eight years, and fantastic seems too, as they flew out and in of the feeders on the Customer’s Middle. Night Grosbeaks are giant, beautiful birds, particularly the males, with their distinct plumage and large payments;. I haven’t been lucky sufficient to see any of the Night Grosbeaks which have made their method south to NYC and New Jersey (but), so I’m very pleased I used to be capable of spend time with these beauties this summer time.
5. Mountain Plover, California
2018 was an excellent yr for Mountain Plover in California, with a congregation (that’s what you name a flock of plovers, says the Internets) seen commonly in Antelope Valley from early November on. And, as a result of of a particular household occasion (see under), I occurred to be in Los Angeles County over the Thanksgiving vacation. The plovers have been simply situated as soon as I noticed I wanted to search for mild brown birds foraging in medium brown filth; a very good scope view, although not an excellent photographic view. Life Hen! Additionally, a chance to fowl Antelope Valley, a desert space inside the boundaries of Los Angeles County the place you’ll be able to see an exquisite selection of birds, together with, earlier within the yr, on a area journey led by Luke Tiller for Pasadena Audubon, Ferruginous Hawk.
four. Baird’s Sparrow, North Dakota
One other sparrow! I seen this Life Fowl on my New Jersey Audubon North Dakota journey; it was not a simple chook to seek out, and a difficult one to photograph. Baird’s Sparrows are true prairie birds, and their inhabitants is declining as their grassland habitat is cultivated for agriculture. It has all the time been a troublesome hen to seek out, even when ample. John James Audubon first heard the sparrow in July, 1944, on a buffalo hunt in North Dakota. Audubon notes that his companions “… had much difficulty in raising them [the sparrows] from the close and rather long grass, to which this species appears to confine itself; several times Mr. Bell nearly trod on some of them, before the birds would take to wing, and they almost instantaneously realighted within a few steps, and then ran like mice through the grass.”[https://archive.org/stream/birdsofamericafr07audu/birdsofamericafr07audu#page/n530/mode/1up]
Which just about describes our adventures discovering these birds. (Solely, we didn’t shoot them and acquire specimens on the finish of the day.) Good to know that some issues don’t change!
Three. Whooping Crane, Florida
Whooping Crane is called a fowl on the sting of extinction (although specialists say it has been faraway from that precipice and is now ‘only’ endangered). There’s a small resident inhabitants in Polk County, Florida, within the center of the peninsula, totally on protected land, and every now and then they present up in a spot the place they are often simply noticed. So, I used to be excited to learn studies in late 2017 of a pair of Whooping Cranes being seen on a cattle farm. I used to be spending January 2018 with household in southeast Florida, and when my go to ended I packed up my automotive and took a really meandering route again to NYC. The Whooping Crane location was smack within the center of agricultural Florida, actually, the center of nowhere, and I loved the orange groves and sense of timelessness (besides the time I heard a shotgun coming nearer, however that’s one other story).
I simply noticed the Whooping Cranes within the cattle subject. They have been giant and fairly gawky, with so much of ‘jewelry’ on their legs, oblivious to the cattle and to me. At one level they approached the fence line and I needed to again away–a lot too shut for pictures or consolation.
Apparently, once I checked eBird to see what number of birders reported the Cranes at this particular location, there was completely no documentation, although I had seen stories on my eBird alerts and on Florida Fb pages. Whooping Crane is just not listed as a “sensitive species” for Florida, and there are studies for different places within the space. An eBird thriller. I additionally famous that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed relocating the 14 Whooping Cranes that stay in Kissimmee Prairie, which incorporates the pair I noticed, and relocating them to Louisiana. The deadline for feedback was April seventh, 2018. Did this occur? I don’t know. But, it makes me doubly comfortable that I used to be capable of see these cranes this yr.
2. Nice Black Hawk, Maine
It took me some time to comprehend that Portland, Maine shouldn’t be distant. Remembering a way back post-college street journey to close by Biddeford, I one way or the other thought it was ten hours away. No. Extra like 5 hours, should you don’t rely fuel and lunch stops, and, significantly, who stops for lunch when you’re after the possible first Nice Black Hawk sighted in North America?
The hawk just isn’t as straightforward to watch as you may assume from the various articles in Maine newspapers and birders’ eBird reviews. After sightings and disappearances round Maine courting again to August, it has seemingly discovered a house in Deering Oaks Park, Portland, however has endured day by day harassment from the native Pink-tailed Hawk. It took me two journeys to see this magnificence! And, it was value it, each for the large-scale wildness of the chook itself and for the thrill of the twitch. On each journeys, I met birders from everywhere in the U.S., some previous Fb associates, some new ones, and received to speak to the residents of the world, who’re as excited concerning the hawk as we’re.
1. Kirtland’s Warbler, NYC & Michigan
One of my realized birding objectives of 2018 was to see Kirtland’s Warbler, however I didn’t anticipate to see it in two states. This can be a chook I’ve longed to see ever since I learn and reviewed William Rapai’s wonderful e-book on the many-storied, typically controversial wrestle to save lots of Kirtland’s Warbler from extinction. Might 11th, lower than two weeks earlier than my very a lot anticipated journey to Michigan with New Jersey Audubon, the NYC listservs and textual content methods lit up with the information that a Kirtland’s Warbler had been noticed in Central Park. The information got here out late, rush hour, and I knew I had no probability of making it to Manhattan from my location on the time, central New Jersey, whereas there was nonetheless daylight. I adopted texts from excited birders with frustration, considering that, as with the few previous appearances of Kirtland’s Warbler in New York State, the hen can be gone the subsequent day.
Might 12th was the Sandy Hook (N.J.) Century Run, half of the World Collection of Birding, a dawn-to-dusk occasion that I do yearly with associates. Who have been very understanding once I ditched them as quickly as I learn the NYS listserv message that the Kirtland’s Warbler had re-appeared! There was a shocking quantity of visitors within the Lincoln Tunnel for early Saturday morning. Much more shocking, I used to be capable of negotiate it and discover parking on the Higher West Aspect. My thoughts was targeted on one factor solely, and it wasn’t driving. (Attending to the fowl is all the time a problem in Manhattan; see Corey’s story for a way he negotiated the subway to get to this similar fowl.) My Life Kirtland’s Warbler was a big (for a warbler) gray-and-black-and-yellow bundle of track, typically low and laconic sufficient for a photograph, however typically very excessive, periodically disappearing from sight even if a zillion fascinated birders plus assorted New Yorkers and vacationers have been gazing it. This was the last word birding social gathering, with continuous excessive fives, craning necks, and lenses–tons of lenses, all sizes.
And, of course, I acquired to see Kirtland’s Warblers on their breeding grounds within the jack pines woods of the decrease peninsula of Michigan, on an exquisite journey led by New Jersey Audubon naturalists Scott Barnes and Linda Mack (who teased me nonstop about leaving them within the lurch two weeks earlier). Paradoxically, it was more durable to get shut seems on the warbler in its habitat, however after a pair of hours of listening to them sing up and down the street on our ranger-led tour, we lastly noticed a nesting pair. I’m together with photographs right here of each the Central Park KIWA (above) and one of the Mio KIWAs (under).
There’s another chook on the prime of my Greatest of 2018 record. Nicely, not likely a fowl. In September, Abigail Ruth, a small human, was born and I turned a grandmother. Abigail doesn’t comprehend it but, however she already has Cassin’s Kingbird, Anna’s Hummingbird, and Pink-whiskered Bulbul on her Life Listing. It’s been an excellent birding yr for her too.
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