It's 19 days until the new year as I write this. I have the three R's in my favor (Rested, Researched, and Retired). I've decided to go for it, to break the Texas Big Year record of 522 in 2017.
2015 taught me a lot about a big year in Texas. In 2015 slow and steady was my strategy in 2015 but 2017 will be different. I'm going to be front loading the year with a big push in January. I have two weeks in Belize scheduled at the end of February but with some work I think I can be set up so unless there is a flurry of rarities I should be OK. I think by mid February I should be close to 350. eBird shows an average of 395 species for January, but remember a lot of those are early birds that aren't a problem later and no reason to waste too much time and gasoline on them.
January will likely look something like this:
Week one work the UTC hard for every last winter bird here on the coast. If the Amazon Kingfisher holds on in Laredo, January 2nd or 3rd blast down for that one. The Laredo landfill is a juicy one for large gulls, it would be great to get some gullers to go with me and help work over the large number of large gulls present at that landfill.
Week two its off to the RGV for the TOS meeting for those specialties,
Week three make a quick trip through Granger for Mountain Plovers (If I don't get them in the RGV), then off to Tawakoni to get Smith's Longspur and then if the Brown Booby continues in Wise County pick that up before heading home.
Week four head west and work The Davis Mountains for those birds, Williamson's Sapsucker for example, Then if there are any good birds in El Paso head that way and get those birds and then the Guadalupe Mountains for Pygmy Nuthatch, Sagebrush Sparrow, Stellar's Jay, and Juniper Titmouse. Then head up to the panhandle for American Tree Sparrow, Northern Shrike, and anything else I can find.
All the birds I mentioned are a priority, but I also need to make sure I get things like Scoters, Henslow's Sparrow, and Purple Finch. These are birds that I think are key to get before mid-February.
March could be pretty dull, mostly waiting for something rare to show up. By mid-May I hope to be knocking on the door of 500 and looking forward to the Summer Pelagic Season. I'll do all the pelagics just because I can't afford to miss anything, That could easily be 12 species I won't get any other way.
Fall will be intense birding for those spring migrants I missed, hopefully that will be few. It might even be a good idea to spend a fair about out west.
I think by the end of October I will know if I'm going to make it. I should be there or just a few birds away if I will make it.
eBird alerts and targets species will be a key tool for me for sure.
Many many people helped me in 2015 and I hope I get the same support for 2017. I will post where I'm going to be often and I'd love to bird with you if I'm in the neighborhood.