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Saturday, December 31, 2022

Top 10 Birds of 2022

Another year in the books, and another year where I didn't leave the U.S. and hardly traveled outside of Pennsylvania. Here's to more travels in the new year!  eBird has me down for only 279 species this year, with 224 of those right here at home in Delaware County, PA. So for sure I need to get out more!  That said, here are my Top 10 Birds of 2022.

Gray-headed Swamphen--Overdue new life bird for me, I picked it up on a quick trip to Florida for my youngest daughter's singing competition in May.  Been waiting to see this one for decades since they first became countable after escaping and colonizing Florida in the early 1990s. #Lifer

Gray Kingbird--Another overdue lifer for me, finally in Florida the right time of year for it. #Lifer

Hermit Warbler--a first record for Pennsylvania and Delaware County, found by visiting birders over the Thanksgiving Weekend and subsequently seen by hundreds of local birders as it played peek-a-boo with birders in a row of pine trees between an apartment building and a suburban church parking lot. Breaks the mind to imagine how many rare birds are lurking out there in unbirded marginal habitat! #NewCountyBird

White Ibis--a mind-bending new county bird for me. While not completely unexpected, it was found by a hiker along Ridley Creek in a heavily wooded section of the park, so another bird in a seemingly random spot. #CountyBird

Barnacle Goose--A new county bird for me, spotted by friends in a large Canada Goose flock that we monitor for rare geese at Springton Reservoir. It flew to a nearby Middle School field to forage and I was able to connect with it there. #CountyBird

Little Gull--another new county bird for me, long-wished for by several of us in the county, first one reported here in decades. I spent many days watching the river behind the PHL airport hoping to find one mixed in with migrating Bonaparte's Gulls, and on the best day finally was able to find a beautiful breeding plummeted adult bird very close to shore with over 400 Bonaparte's Gulls. #CountyBird

Long-eared Owl--very hard to find locally, a friend spotted one being mobbed by Blue Jays and a few of us were able to get there before it disappeared. A new Delaware County bird for me. #CountyBird

Arctic Tern--there was a major invasion of these birds in the Delaware Valley after strong onshore winds during their spring migration. I missed most of them and didn't get great looks, but a new county bird for me, so I'll take it! #CountyBird

Alder Flycatcher--a rare local migrant, great to get this for my yard list--a bird calling in the early morning of 31 May while I was listening in to my NFC microphone recording live on my rooftop. #NewYardBird

Horned Lark--another scarce local bird, heard flying over my house in October. #NewYardBird

Honorabler Mentions

Rare County Birds--Connecticut Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Red-necked Grebe, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Stilt Sandpiper.

Rare Yard Birds--King Rail (NFC), Evening Grosbeak, Swamp Sparrow (new)

Monday, October 31, 2022

My 20th eBird Anniversary

 October 18 marks my 20th anniversary as an eBird user!  Can't believe it has been 20 years!  

As an old man, I now look back and see that on 18 Oct 1982, 20 years before I started using eBird, I was a young teenage birder with only 152 birds on my life list. 20 years before that I wasn't even alive and the Beatles had just released their first single, "Love Me Do."

20 years ago, eBird was brand new and still pretty clunky and rudimentary. I only used it a few times before I lost my password. I didn't start using it on a regular basis until creating a new profile in July 2005 when I was working with Audubon and starting to collaborate with Cornell Lab of Ornithology on the Great Backyard Bird Count and eBird promotion.

Here's what eBird looked like back in October 2002.

This was back in the days before the Google Maps functionality, when eBird had its own proprietary mapping function (which got Cornell and Audubon some cool patents that Google and others have since used). 

So 20 years of eBirding for me.  My first bird entered into eBird? A rare Northern Goshawk at Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Facility, my old stomping grounds. I never entered any notes on that rare sightings--I should probably go back and do that sometime :-)

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

2022 Southeast PA Quad County Birding Challenge

 Back in 2020, I challenged birders in Philly, Delaware County, and Montgomery County to see which county could--

  • Find and report the most birds for the year on eBird
  • Have the most eBirders report 200+ species in the county that year
  • Have the highest eBirder total
  • Have the highest eBird yard list for the year
  • Have the most birders report over 100 species for their yard on eBird
It was a lot of fun, and boosted local birding big time (more details to be published elsewhere soon!). We ran the contest in 2020 and 2021, then added Chester County this year. I post monthly updates on social media to spur on the local birding.  Here is the latest update for the end of September.

We are having a lot of fun, even if other counties are kicking the crud out of my DelCo birders. I'm mostly interested in the eBirders over 200 and Yards over 100 categories, as they are categories anyone can really aspire to and represent increased levels of local birding for most birders.  

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