I've decided to modify my blog posting schedule for the remainder of spring in order to focus my efforts on birding, foraging, and teaching birding and foraging. I'll continue to publish my weekly Nature Notes, but don't expect regular posts on Wednesdays and Fridays until mid-June.
Almost 6 months ago, I launched my Patreon campaign and asked readers to pledge financial contributions to support my walks, workshops, and blogging efforts. Since then, a group of generous supporters have given a total of $296!
If you haven't pledged an amount on Patreon, please consider committing even $1 a month. All patrons receive access to bonus nature quizzes, and contributors of $3 or more per month are eligible for additional rewards in the form of handmade photo cards.
...consume a diversity of wild foods by focusing on a different plant, seaweed, fish, shellfish, insect, mushroom, or mammal, each week of the year.
...hike 10+ miles along the Appalachian Trail in Maine.
...and continue to publish my weekly Nature Notes, but on Mondays (instead of Wednesdays), and with a new format; each post will feature one photo (and perhaps an audio clip), three phenology notes, my wild edible of the week report (see above goal), moon challenge updates (when applicable), and finally a nature challenge of the week (for you, the reader).
2012 was my first year of birds, but 2016 was my first birding Big Year. I've shared some stories from my year already (see Marble's story, Feisty's story, and my Aroostook goose chase posts for starters), and I likely have enough bird tales to assemble a small book, but for today I'd like to share my annotated 2016 Maine Big Year Bird List. Every species on this list was seen (not just heard) at least once.
* Life Bird
♦ Only at Stakeout (rarity found by someone else), location noted
◊ Originally at Stakeout, but later observed a number of times at various locations
¤ Assisted by birding companion, not at Stakeout
† Only seen during off-shore boat trip, often with help of other birders/guides
∴ Originally spotted by another bird
Loons and Grebes [7 species]
Pacific Loon ♦ -- Ocean Ave., Biddeford Pool Common Loon
Western Grebe*♦ -- Simpson's Point, Brunswick
Shearwaters, Storm-Petrels and Tropicbirds [6 species]
Great Shearwater †
Manx Shearwater ¤
Red-billed Tropicbird*♦† -- Seal Island NWR
Gannets and Cormorants [3 species]
Bitterns, Heron and Allies [12 species]
American Bittern Great Blue Heron
Little Egret ◊
Little Blue Heron
Cattle Egret ♦ -- Crocker Rd., Pittston
Green Heron Black-crowned Night-Heron
White-faced Ibis ♦ -- Capisic Pond, Portland
____________________________ Grand Total [305 species]
Some notable misses included Canvasback, Tricolored Heron, Hudsonian Godwit, Little Gull, Forster's Tern, Dovekie, Thick-billed Murre, Red-headed Woodpecker (seen in MA), Western Kingbird (seen in NH), and Common Redpoll. Also, I observed Northern Fulmar, Leach's Storm-Petrel, and Red Phalarope on a boat trip out of Maine, but I was technically in Canadian waters when I saw them, so they didn't make the official state list.
So many people (eBirders, birdwatchers, and non-birders alike) and so many birds (residents, migrants, and vagrants alike) contributed to my big year, and to all of them I say: Thank you!
When I set out my 2016 Naturalist Goals at the start of the year, I hadn't anticipated that I'd commit to a Maine Birding Big Year (more on this next week). As a result, some of my goals shifted.
On a daily basis, I planned to start most days with an early morning walk, and while I enjoyed many dawn walks during the first half of 2016, this practice faded with the arrival of summer. Wild food (especially non-fruits) was an area I thought I'd give more attention to this year, and while foraging played a role in my year (and I taught several foraging workshops), my foraging efforts were limited. My third stated daily practice was to observe birds, plants and mushrooms at local patches. Unfortunately, it was a poor year locally for many mushroom species, due to the very dry conditions, but I did track birds and plants with regularity, as my weekly nature notes attest.
I had more success with meeting my monthly goals. I conducted regular bird surveys at Emmons Preserve (with the exception of October); I ate shellfish in various forms (including locally gathered Common Periwinkles and Atlantic Dogwinkles, and purchased Blue Mussels, clams and oysters); I visited the Sanford Lagoons nearly every other week, and the Saco Heath less often; and I visited local beaches regularly, not just for birding, but also to swim (including several white season plunges), walk, and moon watch.
My last set of goals were for the year as a whole. I aimed to:
Track down a few Life Birds
Done! I observed a whopping 37 Life Birds in 2016 (31 in ME, 3 in Canadian waters, 2 in NH, and 1 in MA).
Photograph some of the 17 bird species who I've seen but not yet photographed
Done! Only 5 species remain: Dovekie, Purple Gallinule, Tundra Swan, Prothonotary Warbler, and Northern Bobwhite.
In 2016, as in the year before, I divided my time between local learning and various mini-excursions throughout Maine, and all the while, my naturalist goals served to focus my efforts. Each goal was either met or consciously set aside to allow room for the inevitable unforeseen circumstances that made up my year.
Thank you for supporting my work. I hope you'll stick with me for the next round of adventures coming in 2017!
Lastly, I challenge you to select at least one nature-connection goal for the coming year, whether it be something you aim to do daily, weekly, monthly, or at some point during 2017. Please share your goal(s) with other readers in the comments below.