At the start of the year, given our self-imposed budget handicap, we expected to get 600 to 625 species for the year. But we never expected to nearly reach our minimum goal by the end of May!
In fact, if we had had better luck with the “winter birds” in January, and if we had been a bit more organized on our first trip away from home, we could have exceeded 600 by now. (There are about 19 birds that we either missed or decided not to chase. If we had seen most of those our number would be over 600.)
Just as important is the fact that we still have over 40% of our budget left. That leaves us enough money to make three more trips at our present rate of expenses per trip. We might even have a little bit left over for a last-chance run to try to rectify our winter misses in December. Our budget has been hurt by the big jump in gasoline prices this year but we have compensated by increasing the number of nights we are camping and reducing the number of nights in motels.
We have been traveling for over 100 days so far this year, but we don’t expect to be able to travel as much as we had originally hoped. We had expected to be away from home for 200 days during the year, but 180 seems more likely now. As our budget runs down we will be spending more and more time at home. But since home is the RGV, arguably the number one birding spot in the country, that’s not such a bad thing! Still, we will be very limited in our ability to chase after rarities that might show up across the US, or even across our own state.
All told, we are very pleased with our progress. We have managed to find 585 birds on $5,581; less than $10 per species!
Note: We have reduced our total to 585. We took a closer look at some of our photos and realized that we had mis-identified the Willow Flycatcher in New Mexico. It was actually a Western Wood-Pewee. Doh!