October is drawing to a close and it has been another month of far-away rarities.
We have been patiently waiting for some rare birds to show up within chasing distance (recently upped to 1000 miles) but there have been none so far. We have enjoyed watching the end of the NTMB migration and the trickling in of the wintering nearctic birds, but the rarities scene has been deadly dull. That’s not the case in some parts of the country.Alaska has continued to have a banner year for Eurasian vagrants and the northeast US and Florida have had their share of recent finds. None of these are close enough for me to chase however. Chasing rarities on a budget is a frustrating hobby!
Our local birds (and birders) have provided plenty of pleasant diversions from the waiting-for-a-rarity-in-the-southwest-US grind. It has been nice to get to know the birds on our property more and to meet more of the highly knowledgeable group of people in the Rodeo and Portal areas. But October has still been a birding bust as far as the Eight Years to 800!? project is concerned.
I am sitting at 690 on the new life list. My goal for the year was to reach 700 (after starting at 661, an addition of 39 species for the year). There are many reasons why I have fallen short so far. The most important one is that I have not chased any of the code 4 and 5 rarities that have graced our shores since the spring season. They have not been near enough or reliable enough to fit into the budget birding concept. (I haven’t set a strict budget limit such as the one we used for our Big Year, but I am still very stingy with the birding bucks when it comes to chasing.) Another reason was my zero-for-everything performance when we made a brief trip to Florida over the summer. (I couldn’t even find a Purple Samphen!)
The prospects for reaching 700 in 2014 are not all that great, but it is still possible with our expected future travel. Soon, we will be heading back to Texas to spend the rest of the fall and part of the winter. It is likely that something or other will turn up there (perhaps a Blue Bunting or a Roadside Hawk). Then, in December, we will be heading up to New York for our son’s graduation from Cornell. There are always a few rarities in the northeast US over the winter and we might be able to chase them between our other obligations. Finally, we are looking into the possibility of taking a pelagic trip to see Great Skua with Brian Patteson in Hatteras, NC. (We might even make it down to Florida again, but that will likely be in early January if it happens.)