Birder's Guide

DEC 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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n Do birds on and around Machias Seal Island count for Maine, or New Brunswick, or both? Well, the island certainly was featured in my book, so a visit there more than counted for my Book Big Year. Photo © Derek Lovitch 19 December 2018 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy Pownal, Maine Derek Lovitch think I want to do a Big Year...kinda." I said to my wife, Jeannette. "You want to do WHAT? You? Why?" she responded. Several friends to whom I floated the idea had similar initial responses. But when I explained my concept, they started to understand, and be sup- portive. It wouldn't be a regular Big Year where I ran around willy-nilly chasing after everything that was reported. Instead, it would have a very specific parameter: I would only count birds— and for that matter, only seek birds—at places covered in my book, Birdwatching in Maine: A Site Guide, published in 2016 by the University Press of New England. The goal was to test the comprehensiveness of the book. Did I successfully cover all of the breeding species? What about the best migrant traps? Rarity hotspots? Could birding only with this book result in a respectable year list? I set a goal of 300 species in the year in order to act as "proof of concept". So off I went. T here were some very good rarities around in January, so the Book Big Year got off to a great start, with a Pink-footed Goose at the Samoset Resort on the Ocean (Site KX5) on January 30 and a Mew Gull at Owls Head Harbor (Site KX4) the next day. While winter is a rather slow time for diversity in Maine, it was important to pick up irruptives that might not be around by the end of the year, such as Bohemian Waxwing and Pine Grosbeak—after all, it is on the cover of the book; I couldn't miss that one! Important pick- ups included the overwintering King Eiders in Portland Harbor (Site C5), a Short-eared Owl at Reid State Park (Site SA3) on February 2, and a Dovekie on Valentine's Day that Jeannette and I enjoyed from Cliff House Maine (Site Y4). Slow growth of the list continued in March, but I was seeing most of what was expected. A Canvasback at Fortune's Rocks Beach (Site Y11) was a quick twitch on March 20. As migration picked up in April, it was time to get to " I

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