Monday, February 6, 2012

Big January 2012 results

Many of Connecticut’s most active birders hit the field each January in search of the most species they can tally in the month. This friendly competition, called the Big January, can be a lot of fun between friends, a great way to start a list for the year, a method of learning about birds and where to find a given species, and a means to make even more birding acquaintances. Twenty years ago, this would have meant one would have to search through habitats across the state using only their own knowledge and experience. At most, a phone call to a good friend or local bird club meeting may have helped disseminate information.

In 2012, list servs, eBird, blogs like this one, Twitter, smartphones, and so much more also help to spread the news about what rare or out of season bird is here or there, helping people assemble much larger lists. With that said, we are all still limited by what species are actually in the state able to be found by someone. Excuse the Yogism, but if a bird isn’t here, then it isn’t here! Last year featured nonstop historic snowfall events as January 2011 went down into the record books in multiple weather categories. Nevertheless, a whopping 154 species were seen by the twelve birders submitting lists, including a state-first Common Murre.

This balmy January, setting records for high temperature on multiple days, featured only one moderate to minor snowfall event depending on where you reside in the state. Many out of season birds were able to remain here through the winter. As it turns out last year’s group total of 154 is rather insignificant as one of this year’s participants broke that collective total from last season by herself! Tina Green saw 156 – yes, one hundred and fifty-six – species of birds in Connecticut in January. Sara Zagorski’s total of 152 was not far behind. The collective reported species for January was 170. Rarities included an alcid bounty with Thick-billed Murre, Common Murre, and so very many Razorbills, plus a Pink-footed Goose, Harris' Sparrow, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Barnacle Goose, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Yellow-throated Warbler, and more. Out of season birds included birds like Northern Rough-winged Swallow to Nashville Warbler to Saltmarsh Sparrow.

Between a fortunately warm season, the affect of climate change, more reports coming from more birders in the field, and advancing technology, will someone eventually crack 200 species in January? Congratulations to Tina for her incredible mark and to all of the participants for putting up big numbers. Meredith Sampson’s list is quite impressive considering she limited herself to only birds in the town of Greenwich. Charlie Barnard and Frank Mantlik largely did the same in Stratford. Each individual's list is linked to in their name (this includes Word, Excel, PDF, and TXT files).

  1. Tina Green - 156
  2. Sara Zagorski - 152
  3. Renee Baade - 138
  4. Denise Jernigan - 132
  5. Greg Hanisek - 131
  6. Frank Mantlik - 122 (97 in Stratford)
  7. Kris Johnson - 120
  8. Bill Banks - 119
  9. John Marshall - 118
  10. Bill Asteriades - 117 - TIED WITH
  11. Paul Wolter - 117
  12. Jay Kaplan - 110
  13. Meredith Sampson - 105 (Greenwich only)
  14. Jonathan Trouern-Trend - 102
  15. Ray Belding - 100
  16. Charlie Barnard - 99

Here are some photos of the many birds seen thanks to Bill Asteriades, Meredith Sampson, and Charlie Barnard, each credited to the appropriate photographer.

 Yellow-throated Warbler by Bill Asteriades

 Common Murre by Bill Asteriades

 Harris' Sparrow by Bill Asteriades

 Northern Shrike by Bill Asteriades

 Bonaparte's Gull by Bill Asteriades

 Razorbill by Bill Asteriades

 Razorbill by Bill Asteriades

 Black-legged Kittiwake by Bill Asteriades

 Razorbill by Bill Asteriades

 Common Murre by Bill Asteriades

 Yellow-breasted Chat by Meredith Sampson

  American Bittern by Charlie Barnard

 Baltimore Oriole by Meredith Sampson

 Green-winged Teal by Meredith Sampson

 American Pipit by Meredith Sampson

Cooper's Hawk by Meredith Sampson

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Photos © their respective photographer

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