My 2023 challenge is to submit an eBird checklist per day for this entire year. I am now halfway through the year and realize what a challenge this is, day in and day out!
When I am at home, comfortably looking at the birds visiting our various backyard bird feeders, it is simple to record my observations! Always a minimum of 15 minutes per observation, I easily knock off my daily checklist challenge. When a greater roadrunner or other bird captures my attention, I can find myself spending more time watching their behavior from the comfort of my armchair.
While traveling, I scope out nature centers, local parks, wetlands and any place where I know other birders have made some interesting observations. Visiting 27 different states during this current trip allows me to add 43 new birds to my life list. None of this is as easy as observing birds at my home feeders and recording my list there.
Once I know where I will bird on a particular morning, I try to arrive in the early morning when birds are most active. Often I am walking a few miles with my camera on a tripod. I like to stop and listen for about 5 – 10 minutes before moving on. I use a 200 – 500 mm lens on my camera since birds are often at tree tops, on electrical lines, or so small within tree branches the zoom lens is best for any photo. Other times it may be the middle of the day because I had to travel to a location a distance from my campground.
After a couple of hours birding, I download my photos, process any photo I am interested in, and record the number of species and photos in The Cornell Lab’s eBird for my daily checklist to be complete. Depending on the day and my plans for the rest of the day, it varies where I get all that accomplished. I sometimes do all that work in my van and use my iPhone as a hotspot. Other times, especially if I am very hot, I may complete it all at a Starbucks while also enjoying an iced mocha! Whatever the location, there is plenty of work to be done. Some birds l know as I observe them, but others I will photograph even when unsure of their identification. For those, I thankfully can use the Merlin Bird Photo ID to help identify a bird for me. If I did not have that Merlin Bird ID app, I would be spending many hours flipping through bird guide books to identify those birds!
Another benefit of the app is the Merlin Bird Sound ID! How many times have I arrived at a location, heard birds, but seen none? That is the perfect time for me to set my camera on its tripod, turn on the app, and simply relax. At some point, birds will fly to another tree or walk on the ground so I can see them and maybe even take a photo. It’s important to see the bird that is listed on the app and not assume the app has the correct sound identification.
Of course many times I think to simply list the birds at the campground. I could do that, but only a few times did I do that. They were days I had many miles to drive or the weather was going to be stormy, rainy or a challenge and I wanted to get my checklist completed for the day. Otherwise, off to find a new location!
So I am halfway to completion of my 2023 challenge … just another 182 days to go! See you at the end of the year. Aren’t challenges fun? Do you have any challenge keeping you busy this year? Let me know … please tell!