Well, folks…it’s been a hell of a ride! A time-honored tradition in nature blogging is an annual review of the year’s highlights. 2016 had its share of awesome moments, so I’m recognizing the standouts in several categories before doing my Top 10.
Personal Best Find: American White Pelicans, Jones Beach, NY 1/16
These wayward wanderers were a total surprise and a great bird for my local patch. I only regret that no one other than Tracey got to see them.
Most Valuable Family: RAILS
I encountered 6 of the 7 North American species this year, 3 of which (King Rail, Ridgway’s Rail, and Black Rail) were lifers! I also got surprisingly good views and repeated encounters with the species which were already on my list. Not bad for such a secretive family.
Most Intense Twitch: Brown Booby, Cayuga Lake, NY 9/23-9/25
Crazy traffic, marching band homecoming, and two strike-outs before I finally got this gal. My non-birding friends even got to come along for the adventure!
Most Depressing Dip: Blue
Bastard Bunting, Frontera Audubon, TX 2/15-2/18
You can’t win ’em all, but I lost this one hard. This little guy ran circles around us for several days in the tangled thickets of Frontera. We’ll meet again…don’t know where, don’t know when.
Best Non-Bird: Blue Whale, Monterey Bay, CA 7/29
Real talk: this beast beats just about every other creature on the planet, hands down. I feel genuinely privileged to have met these massive marine mammals.
Best Planet Earth Moment: Ravens vs. Great Horned Owls, Hempstead Lake, NY 4/23
What a show! This wild battle was a total spectacle, and it practically happened in my own backyard.
Top 5 Days of Birding:
5. South Nassau CBC, Jones Beach and Massapequa Preserve, NY 1/2 (A great start to the year)
4. Pink-foot Chase, Hendrickson Park, NY 11/2 (Enjoyed a local rarity with Dad and Miriam)
3. Shearwater Journeys Pelagic, Monterey Bay, CA 7/29 (High-seas fun with Dylan and Aly)
2. Estero Llano Grande and Laguna Atascosa, TX 2/16 (Rarities, local color, all-day adventure)
1. Major May Fallout, Jones Beach, NY 5/8 (Over 100 species with Brendan at my main patch!)