2014 was a good year for trips and hanging out with other nerders. As much as I complain about how insufferable most birders are, Austin houses a large number of cool ones.
|This Swallow-tailed Kite was seen on one of many, many trips with my good friend Arman. We seek and we destroy.|
|American Oystercatcher from early in the year.|
|This Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl was seen on an intense weekend with Arman and AJ.|
Arizona happened in May, and I finally got to meet up with The Laurence. He pulled a cactus out of my leg and we ate "Pancake." There were too many sick birds to dive into here, so I'll just put up this White-eared Hummingbird.
September saw another trip to California, and this time Flycatcher Jen and The Laurence met up with me and Steve. Jen and I also competed in another Taken For Granted Challenge, which I narrowly won. On the plus side, Jen got to post stupid pictures of me.
|Black-footed Albatross was a life bird on what turned out to be a pretty slow Half Moon Bay pelagic.|
|Steve and I saw these Peregrine Falcons at Point Reyes, and then saw a bunch of dipshits running to look at Pacific-slope Flycatchers.|
I neglected Travis County more than I usually do this year, in exchange for more birding on the Texas coast. In light of what other people saw this year, it seems this was a good idea. The exception was this county record Brown Booby. If you want to crush a Brown Booby, this bird is still here and routinely giving disgusting looks.
I chased quite a few things this year, but Collared Plover has to be the winner. I actually saw this bird twice, even though it's a 5 1/2 hour drive from the ATX.
So let's break shit down. First, the numbers.
ABA: 439. Not great, but not bad, considering I didn't get any further east than the TX/Lousiana border. My final life bird tally was 68. I'll be lucky to halve that next year.
TX: 343. I'm not as concerned about my Texas list as some others, but there aren't too many states where you can break 300 without much effort.
Travis County: 229. This is actually pretty weak, but I'm okay with that. Not the greatest year, and I haven't been around a lot. What really stings is that I was shooting to hit 300 on my Travis life list by the end of this year. I'm at 299 with nothing to chase. Failure.
|Light and dark morph Broad-winged Hawks at Smith Point Hawk Watch.|
10. Swainson's Warbler
9. Yellow-green Vireo
8. Red-faced Warbler
7. White-collared Seedeater
6. Bar-tailed Godwit
5. Slaty-backed Gull
4. Swallow-tailed Kite
3. Elegant Trogon
2. White-eared Hummingbird
1. Buff-collared Nightjar
Best bird trip: There were a lot of them, and it's hard to beat the King Ranch/UTC trip where we had Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Yellow Rail, and well over 20 species of warbler, but the great HDNT American Flamingo trip was insane.
Worst birder experience: Some dude trying to TOUCH A YELLOW RAIL.
Best birding soundtrack of 2014: Jawbreaker - Unfun. Jen reminded me to pull this album out.
Best food eaten while birding: Barbacoa Tacos from a filling station near Hargill just after getting Collared Plover.
So yeah, that's my 2014. Not sure what 2015 holds; most likely a quick winter trip to Arizona, and some early summer birding in Iowa. Shit will happen. I am prepared.