January: I got the year off to a good start with a few solid days of birding and photography whilst at home in the Sault, with some highlights of a surprising 47 species being Harlequin Duck, Hoary Redpoll, Golden Eagle, Gray Catbird, White-crowned Sparrow and Red-shouldered Hawk. After that it was back to school where I picked up a few odds and ends around Guelph and Hamilton with a Dunlin being the most surprising bird. My year list at the end of January stood at 71.
February: One of the definite highlights of my year was a reading week trip to California and Arizona with Josh, Brett and Matt - 9 days of hardcore birding around 5000km of southwestern scenery. We managed to rack up a pretty amazing 260 species for the trip! More details can be seen in earlier posts! Another highlight was my girlfriend Emily whom I have not quite converted into a birder...her life list is up to 189 though! 287 on the year list.
March was a pretty uneventful month, just getting through school and trying to find summer jobs pretty much! I did manage to get a few decent pictures of an American Woodcock though which was cool. 292 on the year list.
April: The end of my second year at UoGuelph was nice, and getting back home was even better. The highlight was an owl route done with Ken McIlwrick where we managed 6 species of owls including Boreal. 302 on the year list.
May was a flurry of activity for me, as I was out birding/biking almost every day, and at the same time trying to find a summer job! I had some success in all three ventures, managing over 250km on the bike (just around town), a few rarities (Western Meadowlark, Eared Grebe, Field Sparrow, Golden-winged Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher) as well as some good local birds (Sedge Wren, Black Tern, Le Conte's Sparrow, Wood Thrush), and scoring a job with Bird Studies Canada which will be summed up in the next few paragraphs. I also did my annual Big Day, coming up just shy of the record with 146 species. Another thing I really got into this spring was yard birding (aka sitting on the deck/roof in a lawn chair with binoculars!). I managed to add a solid 20 species to the yard list this way, cleaning up a few more of the regulars and bringing me up to Kirk's total for (possibly?) highest SSM yard list. At the end of May it was off to Long Point to begin my summer fun of birding, banding and working. 376 on the year list.
June: Once I settled in to work I managed to get out for a few mornings to help with the bird banding at Old Cut, and after a few days of training got to band my first bird: a Black-billed Cuckoo, which many of the long-time banders were very jealous of! Later in the month a Willow Ptarmigan showed up at the Darlington nuclear plant, and a few of us headed over to see it. My first lifer in Ontario for the year! The rest of the month was mostly spent working, which wasn't too bad considering I was outside on the water almost every day! 385 on the year list.
July: My 20th birthday, a Prairie Warbler (new for ON) and a trip to Sudbury to visit family and celebrate various birthdays were the highlights of this month! 388 on the year list.
August: The start of shorebird season, the end of work, a trip to Emily's cottage and getting to spend a week with the Young Ornithologist Workshop participants at Long Point were the highlights of the month. I was somewhat disappointed to be leaving Long Point just as the banding was picking up again but I was happy to be headed home for a little while before school started. While at home I made what was to be my only visit to Whitefish Point during the fall season, picking up a Piping Plover. 391 on the year list.
October is always a good month for vagrants, and this year was no different, however most of them were in the wrong place (midwest USA instead of Ontario)! I did manage to see a few though, with Purple Gallinule, Northern Gannet and Yellow-headed Blackbird, also added Hudsonian Godwit, Nelson's Sparrow and Pomarine Jaeger to the ON list. I also made it down to Cambridge for a few weekends of banding with Brett Fried, adding quite a number of birds to my banded list and bringing my total number of individual birds handled to over 500. Well on my way to a banding license of my own! 401 on the year list.
December: exams, Snowy Owl, exams, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Slaty-backed Gull, the long drive home, Christmas with family, Varied Thrush...it's all so recent and yet soon it will be in a different year! 410 on the year list.
So there you have it, my 2011 in a rather large nutshell. I was lucky to manage a sweet birding trip, an awesome summer birding job, and a nice fall interspersed with birding adventures to make the long, gray days go by a little faster. I was also happy to add 17 birds to my ON list and 19 to my lifelist including 4 in Ontario - the most I've gotten in several years. My updated listing totals can be found on my website, along with some more photos (see link on the sidebar)!!!
Happy New Year's everyone!