In order to make sure I get my 20 Bird Minimum Daily Requirement, I start each day by marking out 30 hash marks, in three columns of 10, on a small piece of paper. That way, every time I see or hear a new bird for the day I can record it on my tally sheet using the standard 4 letter banding codes. Since my tally is grouped in columns of 10, I can quickly see how many species I have for the day.
Here's my completed tally sheet for today:
Driving around town I got Turkey Vultures, Morning Doves, and European Starlings. So far nothing to write home about. So I decided to check out Assicong Marsh, a nearby spot I hadn't visited yet.
At the 24 acre marsh north of Flemington, I got Downy Woodpecker, Canada Goose, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Carolina Wren, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Red-winged Blackbird. I was hoping for some new ducks for my county list, and was happy to find Wood Ducks, American Black Ducks, and a pair of Gadwall with the Mallards. By this point I only needed a couple more to reach my 20 Bird MDR, and I heard a Swamp Sparrow and saw a pair of Northern Cardinals as I walked back to my car. Then I remembered I had also seen a Red-tailed Hawk back in town, so I really had a comfortable 21 species.
On the way home I stopped at the county Arboretum for a few minutes and picked up Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, Tufted Titmice, Black Vulture, and my FOS Hermit Thrush.
After getting home, I saw that I was just 4 species away from reaching 30 for the day, so I spent 10 minutes on my patio, netting Eastern Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Gray Catbird, and White-breasted Nuthatch.
With my tally sheet I was able to see where I was at with my tally at any point, and I could also record numbers and locations of birds seen. Ideally, I will spend a few moments in the evening to submit my sightings to eBird--giving my sightings more value as they contribute to our greater knowledge of bird distribution.
20 Bird MDR game today? Playing gave me a little more incentive to check out a new spot for me and led me to stop for another few minutes at the arboretum, where I noted two juvenile Cedar Waxwings among the 40 or so birds there that were about 80% young birds without red waxy wing feather tips. When I enter those age rations into my eBird checklist, it will help track timing of molt and population dynamics of these wandering birds. By playing the game I saw way more birds than I would have if I hadn't been playing or paying attention. So no huge discoveries, but with 32 birds for the day I had fun, it flexed the birding muscles, and made for a nice addition to my day!