About this blog

The intention of the Birding for Devils blog is to provide trip reports recounting a 'big year' of birding throughout the ABA North American region during the 2016 calendar year. For anyone wishing to regularly follow the blog, I’d suggest you sign up for the RSS feed option here, which saves you checking and rechecking for overdue updates and eventually getting cranky with me for non-performance. 

As implied by the title, there’s more to the Birding for Devils blog than documenting a year of searching the North American landscape for birds. From time to time over the course of the year I’ll attempt to cajole readers into supporting Devil Ark – an important conservation breeding facility for the endangered Tasmanian Devil that I'm involved in. Click here to learn more about the Birding for Devils fundraising campaign and how you can contribute through Devil Ark’s US-based fundraising partner Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) www.globalwildlife.org. All donations are tax deductible, and are applied in their absolute entirety to the maintenance and ongoing expansion of the Devil Ark facility. You can view a short promotional video about this worthy project here.

Why an ABA North American big year?
As an ex-pat Yank, I migrated to Australia in the early 80s largely to pursue a deep fascination for Australia’s mysterious herpetofauna. My wildlife-related interests remained largely focused in that direction until about a decade ago, when the birding bug bit hard. After that I found myself re-visiting many remote regions across the Australian continent that I ‘thought’ I knew, thoroughly exploring a facet of nature that I’d largely overlooked for so long. The increasing frequency of my trips culminated in a full-blown Australian big year of birding in 2012 during which time I explored most corners of the continent, enjoying encounters with a crazy number of bird species.

But even that heavenly year wasn’t enough to stay the addiction for long – so
I went about convincing my  long-suffering wife Robyn along with my other co-managers at the Australian Reptile Park to allow me a second ‘once in a lifetime’ birding odyssey in 2014. This time around I finished the year seeing even more of the Australian continent, islands and territories and an even crazier number of birds while accumulating an almost unfathomably rich and satisfying collection of experiences and memories along the way. A recent article from Birdlife Australia recounting my 2014 Aussie big year is presented here.

The mighty King Penguins of Australia’s Macquarie Island, representing my final ‘Aussie big year’ bird for 2014.    
I hadn’t long returned to the ‘real world’ in early 2015 when, despite the best of intentions, my mind began predictably wandering once again into unhealthy territory. For a while I relied upon the excuse of any reported vagrant bird species to hop on a plane or make a long drive to get my 'fix'. Then, after reading Kenn Kaufman's stirring Kingbird Highway for the umpteenth time, followed by Return to Wild America by Scott Weidensaul, I was hooked. 2016 would be the year I’d cross the Pacific and embark on the ‘real deal’ of year-listing: an ABA North American big year! Apart from the obvious but hopefully avoidable risks of financial ruin and family dissolution, why not? Besides, if I could raise awareness and funding for Devil Ark at the same time, I’d be a mug not to go. Right?

Preparing for my Big Year was half the fun, and the wealth of available resources is staggering - providing me with plenty of entertaining learning activities throughout 2015. 

Although Robyn saw things slightly less simplistically, she eventually graciously consented, perhaps with an increasing sense of inevitability. Robyn will join me for extended trips in some of the more scenic regions, and I really look forward to sharing many American experiences with her. Then it’s back to work. For good. I promise. Yeah.