Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | July 31, 2011

365 Days, 301 Birds – What a “first” year!

Here’s a toast to ending year 1 on an unbelievable note, and to year 2 – may it be just as much fun!

I began formally birding on July 31, 2010 with my first trip to E.B. Forsythe (Brig) and decided that this would be the date that I use to begin tracking all birding milestones. My first year weekend concluded in Forsythe and Cape May and in a surprising turn of events, on Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn, (where I spent much of my childhood) on July 31, 2011.

Lifebird #299 came rather interestingly… after catching as much of the early morning flight as we could at Higbee – our intention was to head up to Stone Harbor for Sandwich Tern @ high tide… we got right to the exit on the GSP when the  tweets came in… there were 9 SANDWICH TERN at the State Park … D’OH!    So we turned back around, and “booked” to the point, where Cape May’s best birders had their scopes pointed at some Gulls and Terns “chilling” on the beach…. we saw 4… (299….. check)

Nothin like a nice, tasty sandwich on the beach 🙂

The remainder of the day’s strategy, stay cool and see lots of birds, with little energy spent…. this put us on 2 boats – Capt. Bob’s The Osprey for back bay birding and the Whale Watch for a shot at some pelagic birds. While we saw many, many species of amazing birds, a few “state birds,” some county birds, but … no lifers…

A quick shower back at the hotel, and we were good to go.. but for what? How about the cherry on top? Long story short (and without details to protect these beauties) #300 is Barn Owl – not just one, but two!!! (And many, many thanks to the two individuals who gave me the gift of a most memorable milestone!!!)

So how does one kick off the next phase…? Perhaps finally life a bird in common with your birding mentor? How about a sighting of a code 5 ABA bird back at their “hometown”- documented, of course, by the New York Times.  🙂   #301 – Gray-Hooded Gull 

click here to view the article

RF and I decided to forgo the last day at Cape May and we headed to my hometown of Brooklyn, NY – and Ironically enough, to the very beach my mom frequently took me as a child to view the rarest bird I have seen yet…

To view my personal photos of the bird, please visit my Flikr site:

What a way to end an already serendipitous year of birding!!!!

Who says you can’t go home again?


Let’s take a look at all the fun facts and stats about year 1:

To view my lifelist, click on the “I Got The Bird” tab on this blog.

  • I totaled 301 lifebirds in my first year
  • I got lifebirds in 8 states in my first year.
      • NJ – 264
        • The top 3 locations were: Brig (73), Cape May (47) and Sandy Hook (42)
      • NY – 14
      • AL – 13
      • MS – 3
      • DE – 3
      • MN – 2
      • TX – 1
      • LA – 1
  • 5 of my first-year lifebirds were “heard only”
        • Chuck-Will’s-Widow
        • Whip-poor-will
        • Least Bittern
        • Barrred Owl
        • Kentucky Warbler
  • 1 NJ “first record” – Pink Footed Goose
  • 1 North American “ABA second record” – Grey-Hooded Gull (Coney Island, BK, NY 7-31-11)
  • My favorite “chases” include:
      • Henslow’s Sparrow (Cape May, NJ) – opened my eyes to the world of “chasing”
      • Red Crossbill (7P, Long Branch, NJ) – great on many levels 😉
      • Grey-Headed Gull (Coney Island, BK, NY) – a place of my childhood, the thrill of the chase, and a lifer for RF.
      • Painted Bunting (Absecon, NJ) – my first “chase” with RF
      • White-faced Ibis (Cape May, NJ) – the buildup
      • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Cape May, NJ) – another fruitful trip on a whim
      • Pink-Footed Goose (Bergen Cty, NJ) – due to the significance (1st NJ record)- and the anticipation before it flew in.
      • Wood Stork (Cape May, NJ) – just fun how it played out
      • Purple Gallinule (Cape May, NJ) – just a cool bird!
      • White Ibis – (Brig) – I just like looking at Ibis a lot! (Plus, that day, I got the sweep (all 3 in one day)
      • Black-Bellied Whistling Duck (on July 4, 2011)
      • Curlew Sandpiper – (Meadowlands) – because it goes to show even the “experts” are wrong sometimes.
  • Most life-changing experience – deciding to travel the Gulf Coast by myself. I met some great people and saw amazing new birds, as well as learned a lot about myself in the process.
  • My most “touching” moment – “lifing” my Snowy Plovers sitting in tire tracks from the BP cleanup crew on the beach at Dauphin Island, AL.
  • Most emotional moment – watching Black Terns, a male King Eider and Little Gull on the beach at Sandy Hook during my first World Series of Birding.
  • Best “Awwww” factor – watching a Piping Plover parent carry away an eggshell, and getting slight looks at a freshly newborn, “wet” chick at 7 Presidents in Long Branch, NJ  – Summer 2010.
  • Nemesis birds still remain despite multiple attempts to see these guys in “known” spots:
      • Common Gallinule
      • Ash Throated Fly Catcher
  • I lifed Purple Gallinule in my first year and still don’t have Common Gallinule
  • I lifed Painted Bunting before Indigo Bunting
  • I lifed Henslow’s Sparrow before many of the other Sparrows
  • I lifed Pink-Footed Goose and still don’t have Cackling
  • I lifed Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher before many of the other Flycatchers
  • I lifed Grey-Headed Gull (2nd NA record) before Black-Headed Gull
  • I had an Ibis “sweep” all in one day at Brig 7-22-11 (White, White-Faced and Glossy)
  • I am bizarely proud of my three “bug” incidents (I wear my bites as a badge of merit.) (I was bit on the right foot by a swarm of FIRE ANTS in Bayou Le Batre, AL in February, 9 TICKS in NJ, and the GREEN-HEAD FLY won the battle against my legs in July.)
  • There were many, many people who helped make this year such a success…. (I’m sure I have forgotten someone, so my apologies.)
Thank you (in no particular order) to the following people who helped make my first year an incredible one:
  • Dad  for planting the seed, 
  • Mom  ♥ for making me appreciate the gulls of Coney Island,
  • LAR for taking me on my very first “real” birding trip, 
  • ES for hiking up Garrett Mountain and scouring DeKorte for Moorhen, 
  • HF for our talks on 7P, 
  • MM for leading by example in the fight to save PIPL and LETE, 
  • The many many NJAS and CMBO trip leaders who answered many a stupid question by me -especially-
    • MC for bringing a wonderful sense of humor to birding, 
    • LM for the hugs and making me feel welcome as a new birder, 
    • SB for being an incredible leader, 
  • DL for sharing those cold, winter days in class at Cape May, 
  • The Richard Crossley(s) and Kevin Karlson(s) of the world who make birds come alive in the pages of their books, 
  • Capt. Bob of the Osprey for being so determined to help me overcome my nemesis YCNH,  
  • JLA for being so supportive of my “crazy new hobby” (and realizing it keeps me sane,) 
  • MS for being one of my loyal blog readers and sharing my enthusiasm, 
  • SG & TR for your tweets, and FB “tips” and IDs, 
  • SS- here’s to much more birding together in the future!
  • CH – for showing me that Alabama isn’t some scary place with Banjos,
  • JS & TS for giving me appreciation for one of the most amazing places on Earth -Dauphin Island, 
  • LH for your beautiful smile at the beach and all the YCNH tips,
  • DS for the online cheerleading and tips.
  • KM for all the birding books and the Audubon print you gave me as gifts throughout the years, 
  • All the other birders who shared “leads, tips and their scope” throughout the last year, 
  • Everyone who supported my very first effort at the World Series of Birding, 
  • Paddy for the “luck”, 
  • My car, “Tino” for being so faithful, even in the bad weather,
  • of course, John James Audubon. 
  • Finally, my “lucky charm,” RF, for the many hours of patience, for doing my first WSB with me, the bird song quizzes, teaching me a new appreciation of warblers, pretending nothing was wrong as you pick ticks off me, the many miles, the Chai lattes you treated me to, all the silly songs we sang in the car and all the laughs. Priceless. 🙂


  1. Just read the paper NYT….Hmm, I said to myself, seeing the tagline about the gray-hooded gull on the front page. Maybe they’ll mention birders I know. I was delighted to see RF and you amply quoted. Thank you so much for sharing your first year birding! Looking forward to many more!

  2. Thanks DL… hope you caught my little “thanks” to you, above. You always made the winter classes more fun for me!!!

  3. Found you blog via twitter (you follow me) and immediately found this post. Great first year! I know the thrill of the hunt must have made a big impression on you and it sounds like you saw many great life birds! My early days birding were as a child/teen before I could drive and that meant I added life birds one at a time for many, many years–a very different experience.

    Hopefully I’ll see you in the field. I thought you might like to check out my blog, in particular this post [ ] is similar to you year wrap-up.

    • Hi Dan, thanks for the comment and the add on Twitter! Great Blog! I’ll be adding the link to my site as well!
      The chase is absolutely the best part of it. I always compare birding (listing) to “Hoarding without the clutter” 🙂
      I always give credit to birders like you who didn’t have it as “easy” as I do…. Can’t imagine how it was without Twitter, Facebook, JerseyBirds, etc…
      The rare ones are basically “handed” to you … but what a great experience.
      Hope you continue to visit my blog, and yes, see you in the field (perhaps Garret Mtn. again)!
      Best, LAM

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