A happy birder! This man has just seen his 700th bird for the year.
(And he didn't fall in, despite all the excitement)
It's also a bird I thought last week would be my 700th. And it was - just a different bird, different state, and a later date. After the heartbreak of missing the New Mexico Blue-footed Booby (see here - it was taken into rehab while I was flying into Dallas) it was perhaps fitting that I'd get another chance to make this special bird my 700th. And also to be in AZ where my Big Year started. And like a lot of my Big Year, I was alone. The celebration was no less intense - although I had to ensure I didn't capsize the canoe!
Oh - before I forget, here's the bird:
Blue-footed Booby - Patagonia Lake, Arizona.
And here's the bird flying. Note the long white tail, and white patch on the back...
When Jan 1st turned this year, I had no idea I'd be doing this. I was scrambling to plan a quick birding trip to Arizona, but that was it. See the intro to my Big Year - inappropriately filed in May (!) What started off as a few successful trips morphed into a medium year, and then into a big year. An accidental big year. Even then, I was thinking 600 or maybe 650 would be a great achievement. To be at 700 in August, given the unplanned start is truly surprising - most especially to me. I've enjoyed every one of those birds. I've enjoyed the chases, the planning and the highs and the temporary lows. But most, I've enjoyed the connection I've made with other birders and the places it's taken me. Every bird and trip is a reminder of what a unique community birders are - ever willing to help a fellow birder. I'm sure it'll be these connections that stay with me. Last week was a painful one, and I'm grateful for all the support - offline and online I received.
So - what's next? After flying into Phoenix today, I'm on a flight out this evening to JFK for the Curlew Sandpiper - seen throughout the day today. A chance at getting back the bird I lost last week in MA.
So - back into chase mode. I'm in Gambell, Alaska the first week of Sept, and then a week of pelagics on the west coast.
But now, I'm trying not to look too far ahead - and just enjoying the Booby Prize!
+ + +
BIG YEAR LIST: 700 + 1 provisional
NEW YEAR BIRDS (1): Blue-footed Booby