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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 10 best birds of 2013

I didn't do a lot of traveling this past year, so most of my birding was close to home.  Here are my top 10 birds of 2013:

1) Mew Gull--back in January I was able to find this bird, the first one ever photographed in New Jersey.

First documented Mew Gull in NJ, photo Rob Fergus

2) Lazuli Bunting--six days after finding the first Mew Gull in New Jersey, I found this bird, the first Lazuli Bunting ever found in New Jersey.  I didn't get the best look and we weren't able to fully identify it until others were able to get photos a week later.  Thank goodness birding is a team sport :-)

First documented Lazuli Bunting in NJ, photo Sam Galick.

3) Blue-footed Booby--on one of only a couple out of state trips this year I was able to see two of these birds at Skinner Lake in Riverside County, California earlier this month.  Looks like it will be my only new bird for my ABA area list this year.

Blue-footed Boobies with cormorants, Skinner Lake, CA--photo Rob Fergus

4) Snowy Owl--there are hundreds of these guys across the East Coast this winter, and a couple weeks ago I got a call about one near my home.  A couple hours later it was relocated and I got to see it, the first one documented for our county (or so we thought until a photo of one a week earlier ended up in the local paper!).
2nd Hunterdon County NJ Snowy Owl record--photo Rob Fergus

5) Barnacle Goose--this bird from last January was one of 10 species I was able to add to my county list last year, and maybe a third county record.  Just got word this morning that it was seed again today, so hope to see it again in 2014.

6) Long-eared Owl--another scarce local bird I was able to add to my county list this year.

7) Pink-footed Goose--got this rare Eurasian bird for the first time in the county late in 2012, and at least three different birds showed up off and on in the county for the first part of 2013.  So far no reports from this winter, but we'll be looking.
Pink-footed Goose, Hunterdon Co, NJ--photo Rob Fergus

8) Glossy Ibis--saw my first one for the county back in May, a bird seen flying across the Spruce Run reservoir at the end of a very good day of birding there with friends.

9) Northern Lapwing--three birds in South Jersey were the first ones I've seen in North America since 1995.

10) Short-eared Owl--my first one for the county was pretty sweet to see, and took a lot of attempts at dusk and dawn to finally see.

I only saw 252 species this past year, my worst year probably in a long time.  That is fewer species than I saw in the county alone last year, and really not great. 1 new ABA bird is the fewest new ABA species I've added in a long time as well.  New responsibilities at church and a new job kind of slowed me down.  My blogging here has tapered off a lot too.  But even with all that, these are some very fine birds to have part of my life this past year, and I am grateful for them!

So what about birding goals for 2014?  I want to get 100 species for my yard next year.  Also want to help two of my kids get 200 species for the county in 2014.  So look forward to lots of birding with them in the coming year.  I'm close to an ABA birding milestone of 700 species, so I'm still playing with the possibility of a south Florida trip in the spring to (finally!) put me over that milestone.
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