No Alligators Around Here

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Goal number one for 2016: find 50 birds in Vermont in the month of January. I hopped on a plane to Florida at 5:45 AM, two and half weeks into the month, with that goal checked, on the nose.

Goal number two for 2016: find 300 birds in the calendar year. On the flight back from Florida I had 103 species on my list. This will not be an easy goal. I am a casual birder, not obsessive. Well, a little obsessive but not too bad. Mostly, I get out when I can but I am intentional about it. As of today I am up to 110 species. February will be a slow month but I will do what I can. I still have several “gimmes,” birds I can expect to find for sure this month, but I won’t start really racking up the species until late March when migrants start returning. I have a conference on Cape Cod in early April and a trip out west later that month, so I have some opportunity. I hope to get to the Maine coast at some point as well. The overall goal is no gimme and it will be fun trying.

Goal number three for 2016: create at least one checklist of birds every day of the year. So far I am on track with that one. This will take some mindfulness for sure, but it is possible. The problem with this goal is that the first day missed means a scratch to the whole goal. It is a goal, however, not a directive, so no worries.

I am not really a resolution kind of guy but goals I can do. I am feeling pretty good about these three. Yesterday I saw a Ruffed Grouse. I knew I would see one at some point this year and this was a close-up sighting. A good way to end January. Spending several days in Florida was a help. I walked around in shorts and found all kinds of great birds. I even got in a solid alligator sighting. I admit it was a bit of a transition, even after that short time, to full-on winter and much less activity with our feathered friends. Birds were everywhere down there. Here in Vermont it can be pretty dang quiet.

I will keep getting out there, however. I have that goal number three to keep me at it. I have some outings to plan and some surprises to hope for. There are no alligators around here but it will be a fun year of birding nonetheless.

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White Ibis at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

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What I got used to seeing. This is at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

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What I am seeing now. This is the Winooski River in Burlington.

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