Our summer home in North Carolina has lots to offer but rare birds are NOT one of its strong points.
There have been some nice rarities in the state, but they have all been pelagic birds seen from Brian Patteson’s boat out of Hatteras or vagrants that I have already seen. There has been nothing new, and within chasing distance, since our arrival here in May.
Elsewhere, it has continued to be an incredible year for rarities in North America. So much so that the North American Big Year record is guaranteed to fall! John Weigle, a birder from Australia whom I met while chasing Common Cranes in West Texas, has already reached the previous record total, and may have exceeded it since I last heard from him. He has seen an incredible 89 rare birds (those ranked ABA codes 3 and above) this year, including several (at least three) that are new to the ABA list and are counted as provisional species until accepted by the checklist committee. This is even before he spends his planned month in Alaska during the fall migration season to chase Eurasian vagrants!
My own year has been decidedly less exciting. So much so that I have come to the conclusion (AGAIN!) that it is simply not possible to see my hoped-for 800 species in eight years under the constraints of our “budget birding” limits. It is certainly possible to see 800 species in eight years. You just have to be willing to spend oodles and oodles of cash to do it.
Going forward, I plan to keep birding in a more casual way but to chase rarities that are near enough to do so without breaking our budget. I expect that I will be able to reach 750 ABA species, with about 15 non-ABA birds as well, and get a respectable list by the time I reach the end of my eight year run.
I also will be hoping to compile a list of several thousand “world birds” by doing some international travel in the future. Right now, I have somewhere between 2000 and 2500 species on my world list (mostly in the USA, Mexico, and Africa).