At the beginning of the month adding new birds to your count is always easier as even the familiar backyard birds are your first time for this year, but as the days and weeks pass the same species start showing up on your bird counts and the challenge becomes finding species that you haven’t already counted. I went at breakneck speed towards the beginning, but I have to confess, I sort of petered out near the end.
The weekend of January 24th and 25th I only went to Saguaro National Park West on Sunday. Though I counted birds there, they were all species I had already counted someplace else. I didn’t count any new birds the rest of the last week until Saturday, January 31st when Gus and I headed out for One Last Hurrah. I read on the Southeast Arizona Rare Bird Alert that the Elegant Trogon has been hanging out at Patagonia Lake State Park. I have never seen the Trogon, and so it would be a triumph to add it to my Life List as well as my Big January Count. We packed up our gear and headed down there to try to find the bird. What a great way to end the game, I thought, if only I could find it. Well, we not only did not find the trogon, but I did not count any new species of birds on the Birding Trail at the east end of the lake. However, just before we left, I asked Gus to stop at the beach area. I wanted to see if there was anything new or different there.
As I stood on the grassy beach with the blue lake reflecting sunlight like fractured glass a flock of Common Mergansers flew past in a line. There were 12 of them heading towards the west end of the lake. Then, two more flew back to the east. They were quite far out for a photo, but I attempted one anyway. Then, a lone duck came flying low and slow. This time I was ready with my camera. I focused and panned as it flew by. When it landed in the water I peered through my bins at a black and white duck with that unmistakable white cheek patch of a Common Golden Eye.
So, the Common Merganser and the Common Golden Eye make 108 and 109, Right? Not so fast she says.
First of all, when I counted the Pyrrhuloxia as number 107 the other day I was wrong. I kept wondering why it was not recording on my eBird list at the end when I lined up the data according to the dates. So, yesterday I arranged the data alphabetically and found out I HAD recorded this species of bird at the beginning of the month in Arivaca. So, that makes the count 108.
Now, for another adjustment: In recording the Black-throated Green Warbler I saw at Madera Canyon I have been corresponding with Rich Hoyer from eBird. Because this is my first sighting and because I don’t have any photos and I did not see the markings on its back and because a Hermit Warbler was also seen in the area around the same time, my Black-throated Green sighting is noted but not validated. Therefore I am removing it from my Big January list and putting it as unconfirmed on my life list. This is okay. I do not want to count a species of bird that I have not positively identified. I am sure I will get my chance again one day. As for eBird, they have to do this to maintain their quality of information. It is not a slight towards me or any other birder. In fact, it can make you feel more confident in the data they release.
So, with these two adjustments and the two new species my Big January count stands at 107 species!
Bridled Titmouse at Patogonia Lake State park 1-31-09 by Kathiesbirds
Now, I have two weeks to rest up before the Great Backyard Bird Count starts on Presidents Day weekend, February 13 through the 16th.
Big January Bloggers Final count:
Larry, Brownstone Birding Blog: 100*
Ruth, Body, Soul and Spirit: 61*
Mike, 10,000 Birds: 55*
Mary, Mary's View: 30ish* (she thinks) :)
The Strobels, Bird Couple: 87*
KAllen305, Kitchen Window Birder: 37*
Anyone Else? Let me know and I will add you to the list!