2018 Year in Review

~This Least Bittern photo did not make my personal top 10 this year, but I felt like it deserved honorable mention. This was my first photo taken with my new Canon 7D Mark II. LIBI at the Liberty Loop, 06/28/18.~

Well, it was an interesting year for sure. I’d changed jobs at the end of 2017, so 2018 was my first full year of birding on a more restricted schedule where most of my birding had to be done on the weekends or in the evenings (and, I only had enough time in the evenings during Daylight Savings Time). I also got a promotion late in the summer, which also took some of my focus away from the birds. I felt like I was not as in touch with the birding world in our area as I had been in previous years; this was alleviated by my birding buds keeping me in the loop, as well as the Mearns Bird Club phone app, which kept the alerts rolling in, even while I was at work (a nice respite!). In spite of the time restrictions, 2018 proved to be my most productive ever in regards to Orange County birds. A lot of things just seemed to fall into place and I had a very lucky birding year and I finished with 228 species on my OC year list.


~Wow, 3 of the 7 Black Terns flying over a tractor in a rain storm on Skinner’s Lane, 08/13/18.~

Looking back, I had some pretty fantastic birding experiences in 2018. Probably the most notable was getting the ROSEATE SPOONBILL in New York/Orange County on an early morning in late July. Other exciting experiences include seeing 7(!) Black Terns during a rain storm at Skinner’s Lane on August 13th, a remarkable 25 Red-throated Loons at Wickham Lake in early April, getting my first ever RUFFED GROUSE in Orange County in June, a remarkable 5 American Bitterns at the Liberty Loop at the end of April, and my first ever OC WHIMBREL in early August.

~Roseate Spoonbill at the Liberty Loop, 07/29/18.~

My most enjoyable experiences included watching and photographing a pair of dancing SANDHILL CRANES, photographing LAPLAND LONGSPURS in near breeding plumage, and getting my first NORTHERN SHRIKE in Orange County in several years.

~SANDHILL CRANE shenanigans, 09/03/18.~
~To me, this is one of the most inherently cool birds we see regularly – LAPLAND LONGSPUR in near breeding plumage, Black Dirt 03/11/18.~


~Beautiful baby bobcat in Orange County, 10/18/18.~

I had some amazing luck when it came to mammals this year. I was fortunate enough to see and photograph BOBCATS on two occasions, one adult and one kitten. I also went through a time when I felt like I couldn’t walk out the front door without running into a bear. That got a little unnerving after a while. Linda Scrima, Maria Loukeris, and I had a wonderful experience seeing the seals in Sandy Hook back in March, during a pelagic trip in November, humpback whales, fin whales, and common dolphins put on quite a show, and late in November I played a hunch and took my camera to work; I found a red fox in the snow that morning.

~Bobcat in Orange County, 05/21/18. This was a BIG cat.~
~I love this photo, what a big brute this bear was. Black bear in the rain at Black Rock Forrest, 06/24/18.~
~Red fox in the snow, Garnerville, NY 11/16/18.~
~A pile of seals at Sandy Hook, 03/24/18.~


Every year it’s tough for me to pick out my favorite photos. This year proved to be no different. Looking back over a year of posts, here are the ten photos that speak to me the most:

~Horned Grebe at Greenwood Lake, 04/07/18.~
~Least Bittern at the Liberty Loop, 08/05/18.~
~I think my love of this photo has more to do with the bird, which was my favorite from my trip to Ireland in July – Eurasian Skylark in Rossadillisk, Ireland 07/10/18.~
~Northern Gannet close-up, See Life Paulagics Brooklyn Trip 11/04/18.~
~Least Bittern at the Liberty Loop, 07/29/18. This is my 3rd Least Bittern in this post, but I should mention that the photos are from 3 different days, one in June, one in July, and one in August. ~
My luckiest shot of the year – Ruby-throated Hummingbird going for a snack at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge – Winding Waters Trail, 08/25/18.
~Baird’s Sandpiper at Apollo Plaza, 09/05/18.~
~Black-and-white Warbler at Sterling Forest, 05/05/18.~
~European Goldfinch, Rossadillisk Ireland, 07/09/18.~
~I couldn’t have a top 10 without at least one Common Loon shot; they are one of the most accommodating birds I see on a regular basis, providing plenty of opportunities for close ups. COLO in the Adirondacks, 07/21/18.~

As always, I’d like to thank some folks at the end of the year. Thanks so much to everyone that reads the blog, and especially those of you that make comments – you have no idea how much they mean to me. And, huge thanks go to the contributors to the blog – Karen Miller, Bill Fiero, and Kent Warner; I hope they will all continue to contribute in 2019. I’d also like to thank all my birding friends out there, with special thanks going to Rob Stone, Linda Scrima, Maria Loukeris, Kyle Dudgeon, John Haas, Karen Miller, Ken McDermott, Kathy Ashman, and Judy Cinquina. Happy New Year everyone, here’s to an exciting and bird-filled 2019!

14 thoughts on “2018 Year in Review”

  1. Wow! What a year you’ve had! Who needs eBird when we have zBird.
    Your blog and photos consistently amaze, entertain and educate us.

    I’m only a newbie, but I can’t tell you how much your entries mean to me.
    I learn more from you than any Cornell course – so on behalf of us
    beginners – please keep it coming!!!

    Have a great New Years, Matt – stay safe – no more car accidents. And we look forward to sharing your amazing experiences and adventures with the rest of us! Best.

    1. zBird! I love it! Thanks so much Jeff, it’s awesome to hear that the blog is helpful and entertaining, and you know I’ll keep it up through 2019. Happy New Year to you; hope to see you out there sometime soon. Matt

  2. Just wonderful Matt! Happy New Year and look forward to what your photographic magic will capture for 2019!!


  3. A clear, succinct summation of your rewarding birding year! Many thanks, Matt, for your informative blogs accompanied by photos that are a feast for the eyes. I’m sure that although you find birding personally satisfying, there were days when those wet, cold, muddy trips were less than pleasurable. Your blogs and photos are a quick means for me (a non-birder) to learn within a short time. I look up the birds (unfamiliar to me) and enjoy the bonus mammals! Happy New Year to all and cheers to more birding in 2019!

    1. I’ve enjoyed your comments all year, Norma, so thanks for that. Happy new year, here’s to a birdy 2019! Matt

  4. Thanks for the year wrap-up. All great shots. I finally got my cedar waxwings yesterday. Thought I would run down to Sandy Hook to try to see a razorbill early this afternoon, Did much better than expected as I ended up with approx. 230 in 2 hours. Some were on the water but most were in flight. It was an incredible time Jeff Ellerbush who was at another few beaches up reported approx . 500 in the morning. Happy New Year.

    1. Congrats on the waxings and the amazing number of Razorbills. I always enjoy your updates, hope you continue them in 2019. Happy New Year.

  5. Went down to Cape May today and started the year with about 60 species. A highlight was an orange crowned warbler. Back to school tomorrow.

    1. That’s an excellent star to the year, Bruce. I took a hike, but it was almost completely bird-free (only a couple of Tufted Titmice and a Common Raven). It was back to work for me too, so looking forward to the weekend. Matt

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