Friday, September 30, 2016

A Big Month

The movie "The Big Year" came out in 2011. If you're not familiar, it's a comedy starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson who are all involved in a "Big Year". Basically, a big year is an informal competition among birders to see who can identify by sight or sound the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and within a specific geographical area.

I'm not sure when I first saw the movie,but I do remember saying to myself; if not out loud "I want to do that someday". We all know "someday" is not an official day on the calendar, so the chances of having "a big year" anytime soon, were slim to none.

Fast forward to this past summer, to a conversation I had with my co-worker. It was discovered that they saw the same movie and shared a similar notion. No, we didn't drop everything to have ourselves a big year, but we did decide to hold "a big month" challenge. The challenge was to simply capture photos of as many birds as possible and then to identify them.

Challenge accepted!

Yes, I won the challenge in the end. It didn't matter if we found a juvenile, male or female, it was one point per bird type. I reached 24 birds in total in September. I became an official bird nerd. I enjoyed it, but in the end came up level "novice". This is a bad thing, because now I have a new challenge. Beat my personal best! We'll see what next year brings.

I learned a lot about something I didn't even realize interested me. I dabbled in August and photographed Ravens, Herring Gulls, Downy Woodpeckers, Mallards, Canada Geese, Ruby-throated Humming Birds, White-breasted Nuthatches, Bonaparte's Gulls, a Yellow-billed Shrike, a Cooper's Hawk (which just happened to be stuck inside the building we work in) and some Blue Jays.

For the official September challenge, I photographed (if my identification skills are any good): male and female Canada Geese, Clay-colored Sparrows, Black-billed Magpies, American Crows, Barn Swallows (in South Dakota), female and male Downy Woodpeckers, Ring-billed Gulls (of various parking lot locations), a Tennessee Warbler, quite a few Yellow-rumped Warblers, Rock Pigeons, Black-capped Chickadees, male and female White-breasted Nuthatches, female wood ducks, juvenile and adult male wood ducks, the elusive Norther Flicker (they always saw me coming a mile away), a Dark-eyed Junco, Yellow Warbler, juvenile Cedar Waxwing, Tundra Swans flying with a couple of Canada Geese buddies, a Chipping Sparrow, a White-throated Sparrow, a common raven, a Canvasback and last but not least... the American White Pelicans out in Lockport, MB.

"We don't friggin' give a heck" - Canada Geese

Black-billed Magpies

Had to stand in 1/2" of droppings and crank up the ISO for this Rock Pigeon photo.

a lone Canvasback, hanging out with the Canada Geese, Mallards and Wood Ducks in St. Vital Park.

White-throated Sparrow

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-capped Chickadee

September's birding month challenge complete! October's challenge... Finish resurrecting the Angry Ramp before the first snowfall. Stay tuned for that.

1 comment:

  1. Love this story (and of course the photos too). I recently purchased a "Birds of Canada" field guide and a family membership to Fort Whyte to indulge in my newly discovered fascination with birds. I think becoming more interested with the natural world around us is a function of aging. We become less self-centered and more aware of our surroundings. Another function of aging is to overshare on a public blog and not give a fuck! Anyway, happy hunting.