2014 – Year in Review

It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone! I know I say it every year, but the older I get, the faster the years go by. I’ve decided to start 2015 with a new look for the blog; I am curious about what folks think of the new layout, so please comment if you have any thoughts about it. It was another great year of birding for me, and I really enjoyed doing the blog. Here’s a snapshot of the year 2014 here at Orangebirding.

BY THE NUMBERS

Here are my species totals for the year, with the last two year’s totals for comparison:

Area                                        2014                     2013                 2012

World:                                        244                         240                    199

United States:                           244                         240                    171

New York State:                        209                         211                      167

New Jersey State:                     130                          107                     85

ORANGE COUNTY:                   186                         176                     126

Sullivan County:                         114                          133                     112

Looking at the numbers, I did not have as good a year as I might have thought. I only increased my total birds for the year by 4, and my New York State and Sullivan County totals were both actually down. Orange County, however, went up by 11.  Without really realizing it, I certainly increased the importance of birding in my home county this year.

I started 2014 with 284 life birds and ended the year with 315, that’s 31 new life birds added! This is a lot  of new birds, but it is, of course, down from last year when I add 69 life birds to my list. I think there are a couple of reasons for this; last year we travelled to Colorado where many of the birds that I saw were lifers – I picked up 22 life birds in a week and a half. This year we spent two weeks in Maine, which is not quite as far from home, and I only added 6 life birds to my list. The second reason is where I am in my birding; life birds, especially found locally, will become increasingly difficult to see.

I also thought it would be interesting to look at the number of posts I did in the last year – this is my 153rd post of the year. This is up from the 117 posts I made last year. And finally, for what it’s worth, according to Google Analytics the blog had 10,740 visits by 3,925 individuals.

TOP FIVE PHOTOS OF THE YEAR

For the past two years I have included my favorite photo of the year in my end of year post. This year I did not feel like I had a single shot that stood out, so I have decided to go with a top five:

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Forster’s Tern at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge 6/16/14. I love the pastel colors of this shot and also that I got lucky with the catchlight in the bird’s eye.
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Blackburnian Warbler at Pochuck Mountain State Forest, 5/11/14. Pretty colors in this one, and the bird is super crisp.
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One of my favorite birds to photograph, a male Northern Harrier on Mission Land Road, 1/12/14. I got very lucky with this shot, I was driving on Mission Land and this “Gray Ghost” just flew right alongside my car.
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A flock of mixed blackbirds on Onion Avenue in New Hampton, NY, 3/14/14. I got lucky with the light on this one – right place right time. If you can view this one full screen, it makes a difference.
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Laughing Gull photographed from back of the Ferry from Lewes DE to Cape May NJ, 6/15/14. I just like this one and I got a terrific reaction when I posted it as well.

BIRD OF THE YEAR: BARN OWL

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Barn Owl in flight, Orange County NY, February 2014.

I’ve always put Barn Owl in the category of “Birds I never thought I would photograph”, particularly in Orange County NY. Seeing this bird in the wild and so close to home was amazing; getting some decent photos was the icing on the cake.

MOST EXCITING BIRDING EXPERIENCE OF THE YEAR: ATLANTIC PUFFINS OFF THE COAST OF MAINE

A pair of Atlantic Puffins
A pair of Atlantic Puffins, Eastern Egg Rock Island ME, 8/4/14.

Tricia and I did not get the best conditions for the two puffin boating excursions we took while we were in Maine; the fog was very thick at both locations. It did not deter us, we got some great birds, including 5 life birds for me: Northern Fulmar (LB), Great Shearwater (LB), Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Northern Gannet, Red Phalarope, Roseate Tern (LB), Arctic Tern (LB), Common Murre, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Parasitic Jaeger (LB), and Atlantic Puffin. Additionally, I still managed to get some decent photos in spite of the heavy fog.

We also had many Great Shearwaters. Whale Watching Tour off of Bar Harbor ME, 8/1/14.
Great Shearwaters on Whale Watching Tour off of Bar Harbor ME, 8/1/14.

FAVORITE BIRDING LOCATION OF THE YEAR: 6 1/2 STATION ROAD SANCTUARY

A Glossy Ibis picks through the small pond south of the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 8/20/14.
A Glossy Ibis picks through the small pond south of the Heritage Trail at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 8/20/14.

6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary is the birding spot closest to my home in Goshen, but that is not why I went there so frequently this year. The reason is, that the birding was flat out good. I saw a tremendous variety of the expected species and a few less expected birds as well, including Virginia Rail, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Stilt Sandpiper, and Glossy Ibis. In all I had 92 species at the sanctuary this year; this includes birds located at what I refer to as the Citgo Trail, which is the trail that leads to the smaller pond south of the Heritage Trail.

This Yellow-billed Cuckoo made my morning. 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary, 9/21/14.
One of my favorites, a  Yellow-billed Cuckoo at 6 1/2 Station Road Sanctuary on 9/21/14.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the birders in our area; they are such good company and always helpful and generous with their knowledge. I hope as I learn and progress that I can do the same for others. Special thanks to Rob Stone, John Haas, Judy Cinquina, Karen Miller, Linda Scrima, and Maria Loukeris for all their help and good company this year. Happy New Year to everyone out there – may your 2015 be filled with all the birds you can wish for, from Black-capped Chickadees to Pink-footed Geese.

10 thoughts on “2014 – Year in Review”

  1. Matt

    Really nice job with the post. I really am partial to the black background before because I think it made the colors of the birds stand out so beautifully.

    Happy New Year to you and Tricia.

    1. Thanks Wilma, and Happy New Year to you and yours as well. I was always partial to the black background, but felt the need to change it up a bit. I can always go back to the black background again at some point. Take Care, Matt.

  2. Matt,
    The new site looks great! Most amazing to me are all of your fabulous flight shots! You really have this down. Best wishes for many great birds in the new year! John

  3. I think I agree with Wilma on the background, maybe try earthier colors, browns? Regardless, your pictures are always amazing. I want to thank you for everything, your friendship and guidance resulted in a pretty fantastic first year of truly birding.

    1. Maria,
      Thanks for the feedback, maybe I will have to tinker with it a bit. It was great to be a part of your first true year of birding, it was so fun to watch you get your 200+ species for the year. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store. Matt

  4. I think the white some how takes something away from the pictures.
    The year in review was great, but I think it would have been better with the black.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Ralph. I see a trend here – I may have to go back to the black. I chose this layout because the photos are larger than they were in the old theme, but it won’t allow me to do it with a black background. Great to see you yesterday. Matt

  5. A great year of birding! Have enjoyed all the pictures and have really learned a lot from the blog (and the occasional birding expeditions together). Have always liked your mixed flock of blackbirds picture, but I am partial to the Barn Owl. Hoping you see many new “favorites” this year.

    1. Thanks Linda. I’m sure you know that it’s a two way street, I’ve learned a lot from you as well particularly from your determination to get an ID correct by paying such careful attention to all the details. Who knows what great birds we’ll have in 2015? I’m looking forward to it! Matt

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