Well nerds, 2013 is quickly drawing to a close, and as such, I think it's a decent time for the obligatory "summary" post. Unlike many 2013 summaries, this post will not involve "twerking." I mean, feel free to "twerk" if you like, just don't expect me to join you. Blah blah blah. Anyways, 2013 happened. There were birds, love, whiskey, and jams, not necessarily ranked accordingly. There were also unsuccessful attempts at pulling off a moustache. It wasn't my best year; it wasn't my worst year. It kind of just "was." But, you're here for the birds. And on that front, 2013 was pretty stellar. Let's review. Also, please take note that my camera setup has vastly improved since the beginning of the year. Power through the shitty pictures at the beginning of the post; I promise they get better.
|Purple Martin Roost - hundreds of thousands of birds. One the most impressive spectacles I saw this year.|
Quite a few birding trips were made this year, many of which were with my good buddy AJ. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I want you all to know that AJ is a badass dude. Most positive and energetic person I've ever known. I'd like to think it makes me a better person for just knowing him. So, we started the year with a Red Crossbill trip to North Texas (although really, I consider anything north of Waco to be Oklahoma).
|Red Crossbills were as easy to locate as they were difficult to crush. Good bird for Texas.|
|Cedar Waxwings in North Texas|
In May, AJ and I did the Big Bend trip. This is something that everyone needs to do, and I think Texas birders probably need to do it annually. It's completely fucking breathtaking. Birds are sick.
|Painted Redstart - We literally hiked over the mountain and through the woods before we saw this bird.|
|Dusky-capped Flycatcher - super cooperative bird; just came off the Texas review list a few years ago.|
|Colima Warbler - the reason so many out of shape nerders climb the grueling Pinnacles Trail.|
In conjunction with a Texas pelagic, AJ and I pissed around the valley for a few days in September. The Valley is one of my favorite places. The birds are nuts and the tacos are excellent.
|Long-billed Thrasher - South Texas specialty|
|Caspian Tern - this was my first outing with my new lens. I was stoked.|
|This is AJ. I swear to God, he could have his legs chopped off and still make it up a mountain before me. And he'd be smiling the whole damn time. My life would be vastly different if I had 10% of the enthusiasm that he has.|
In late May, I attended my roommate's wedding in Cape Cod. It was a great opportunity to get together with my original birding mentor/tutor, Jake, a great dude, and a hell of a good birder...and lepper...and oder. Good birds were seen and good beer was ingested.
|This is Jake, my original birding mentor. That means I could call him about Lesser Goldfinches and he wouldn't tell me to fuck off. As you can see, he's also the ultimate multi-tasker.|
|This is a young dead Diamondback Terrapin. One of the coolest things I've seen this year. Not the being dead part, though.|
|Common Eider - Stunning life bird.|
|Piping Plover - I did a nice walk one morning in Cape Cod, in the midst of a relatively strong hangover. There were nesting Piping Plovers, Least Terns, and Willets. It was cool.|
|Least Terns - although I stayed far away from the roped off nesting area, they were still less than enthusiastic about my presence. I gave them a wide berth.|
|Yellow-billed Magpie - I rented a car to see this bird. It took me way longer than it should have to figure out how to drive a Prius. It was worth it.|
|Pink-footed Shearwater - on the Half Moon Bay pelagic.|
|Pomarine Jaeger - one of my favorite photos I took this year, and the reason I now only shoot in RAW.|
|Nelson's Sparrow - this googly-eyed fucker was one of the bigger surprises in the county this year.|
|Golden-cheeked Warbler - if I ever get a tattoo of a bird, this will be the one.|
|Rock Wren - not the easiest bird to see in Travis, let alone photograph. Good luck on this day.|
|Wilson's Phalarope - one of many fine looking birds you can see in the county.|
|One of my favorite things this year was finding Scissor-tailed Flycatchers nesting in the parking lot of my hospital.|
I feel like I had a good year for owls, notching up 11 species. Many offered decent looks and opportunities for crushing.
|Barred Owl fledgling.|
|Northern Saw-whet Owl - My mom saw this bird.|
|Long-eared Owl - I know I just posted this a few weeks ago, but I'm still not over it.|
|This is a Barn Owl. I don't think it was even a full day old. AJ monitors the nest, and invited me up to document the birds.|
|That little bird would shortly turn into this.|
So, let's look at the numbers, shall we? If you're a vehement "anti-lister" feel free to ignore this part. Go look at House Sparrows or something.
ABA - 416
Texas - 349
Travis county - 262
I'm happy with that. Not stellar, but I saw a lot of shit and learned a ton about identification and distribution. I also added some pretty great life birds this year. Here are my favorites, ranked not in order of rarity status, but in my own level of mental freak-out when I saw them.
10. Golden-winged Warbler
9. Varied Bunting
8. Nelson's Sparrow
7. Painted Redstart
5. Dusky-capped Flycatcher
4. Flesh-footed Shearwater
3. Elf Owl
2. Blue-footed Booby
1. Zone-tailed Hawk
So, what does 2014 hold? Not sure. Ideas float around in my head. Southeast Arizona? King Ranch for Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl? Hopefully, those will be in the handful of trips I make. Until then, I hope you nerds have a good new year and all that jazz.
|Brown Pelican - I think this was my favorite photo I took this year.|