16 July Update
751 + 2 ‘provisional’ species = New ABA Big Year record!
It’s not just a big moment for me, but for a lot of people who have supported and helped me through to this landmark. The support from US birders, including a veritable ‘who’s who’ of big year birding, past and present has been instrumental in my progress. Truly.
Another factor in this process has been my undeterred ambition to be the first year lister to reach the rarefied 750’s. This sense of focus and single-mindedness had shifted up to a gear I didn't know I had from early June due to extraneous matters, but is now a mode that I’m not sure how to shake. With any luck however, a few of the remaining ‘common’ species can be found in the next week or so, where after, as was always intended, my strategy will change from being an endurance contest, to participation on as many pelagic missions I can get on, while anticipating a long and productive period on remote Alaskan outposts – where the best chance for accumulating rarities in Autumn exists.
I'll keep my long-term goals to myself for the time being, but all can be assured that I'm not planning on going soft any time soon.
At this particular moment, I want to get at least an abbreviated report out, before crawling into bed for the longest sleep I’ve had in a long time. Today, as usual, was a big day. I’ve just returned to my hotel after ten hours on the seas (where I only saw one 'new' bird – Buller’s Shearwater, but saw a remarkable range of other species) and a subsequent drive to Foster City for a look at the Red Knots that had been hanging around for a few days.
My intention is to add more colour and content to these latest reports in the fullness of time. I just can’t do so when in race mode, nor in exhaustion mode, so bear with me!
This is the area that Gray Partridges were reported on several recent occasions, with up to 10 birds in view. It took many hours of search before I encountered a single bird - which refused to flush after slinking into thick cover, no matter how much I tried.
Although I didn't manage to photograph 'my' Gray Partridge, I did photograph several Chukars and California Quails that also inhabited the gullies of Ephrata, Washington.
My pelagic trip from Half Moon today with Alvaro yielded a surprising range of birds and cetaceans. My favorite of course was the early-for-season Buller's Shearwater, which technically speaking became my 750th and a new ABA big year record bird.
Yep, that IS a Blue Whale!
Red Knots and Marbled Godwits in the San Francisco bay area. What a relief! The scariest bird still on my hit list, due to my commitments during reverse migration is now Buff-breasted Sandpiper.