Given no encumbrances, any individual else’s expense account, and maybe a non-public jet, I’ve summarized right here the birding places I’d wrap into my good birding 12 months. It’s not a Massive Yr however an itinerary tailor-made to have interaction the birding spectacles of the continent, beginning with Newburyport, Massachusetts, on January 1. Sure, it’s chilly, however species like Little Gull, Snowy Owl, Nice Cormorant, Snow Bunting, Lapland Longspur, and white-winged gulls (i.e., Iceland and Glaucous) are cold-weather birds, and Newburyport is the place you discover them. The chowder is fairly darn high-quality, too. What sort of chowder? You jest!
Then, to thaw out later within the month, I’d in all probability head for southern Florida, dwelling to birds of a semi-tropical taste, and maybe tuck in a winter pelagic journey out of New Jersey or North Carolina en route (for assorted Atlantic alcids). Florida will not be a spot to rush your enjoyment of Limpkin, Snail Kite, Quick-tailed Hawk, Mangrove Cuckoo, and various wading birds, and nothing actually stirs the birdscape till March, so dawdle … however go.
In March, it’s on to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and its bounty of Mexican specialties: Hook-billed Kite, Muscovy Duck, Ringed Kingfisher, Inexperienced Jay (OMG!), and no matter south-of-the-border rarities flip up this 12 months. Blue Bunting, Grey-crowned Yellowthroat, Yellow-green Vireo, who is aware of?
March additionally sees the start of the area’s spectacular raptor migration as Broad-winged and Swainson’s Hawks and Mississippi Kites start surging throughout the Rio Grande, turning climate radar screens and hawk watchers throughout North America inexperienced. However, sadly, a lot as we’d prefer to, we will’t dawdle within the Valley. Spring is shifting on, and so should we.
Nebraska’s Platte River calls, for the spectacle of half one million staging Sandhill Cranes (plus a aspect journey or two for lecking prairie-chickens). Then in April or early Could, we’d backtrack to Kansas and the hosts of northbound shorebirds packing into Quivira Nationwide Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms. The prairies are the spring mecca for shorebird watchers. Could? Laborious to beat Crane Creek, Ohio, for migrating warblers in breeding plumage, full track, and at eye-level.
June? I like the prairies in spring, even wrote a e book on the topic. Lark Buntings and Thick-billed Longspurs all going ballistic. Ridge-cruising Ferruginous Hawks making floor squirrels want they have been elsewhere. Upland Sandpipers yodeling from fenceposts, Frequent Nighthawks booming overhead. Then, perhaps we’ll head west to Yuba Cross within the Sierras for Mountain Quail, White-headed Woodpecker, Hermit Warbler, and different western forest specialties.
Monsoon season (July-August)? It’s bought to be southeastern Arizona with its hummingbird hosts and sky-islands specialties like Hepatic Tanager and (gasp, sigh) Pink-faced Warbler. In the meantime, out on the flats the place riparian water programs abut grasslands, there are Grey Hawks, Vermilion Flycatchers, and Chihuahuan Meadowlarks to savor. (Simply keep out of the tall grass. Chiggers, you understand.) Then it’s again to California for a pelagic journey out of Monterey and rafts of Sooty Shearwaters spiked with Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses.
Fall? Needs to be Cape Could, New Jersey, the “migration mainline,” though come November, it’s crucial we take a little bit side-trip to Duluth, Minnesota, to catch the southbound parade of Northern Goshawks.
One other winter closing in? How about heading for Tule Lake or Sacramento Nationwide Wildlife Refuges and Washington’s Grays Harbor, for the hosts of wintering waterfowl, raptors, and shorebirds.
Sure, Grays Harbor is healthier identified for its spring shorebird concentrations (however you possibly can’t be in every single place in Could, and shore- birds winter there, too, as does the occasional Gyrfalcon).
Then, as actual winter closes over the land? Why not savor the birds and sunshine and delicacies of the southern and central coast of California, perhaps take within the Morro Bay Chook Pageant in January, then stick round for the San Diego Birding Pageant in February. Nice climate, oodles of birds (together with a couple of endemics like California Gnatcatcher and Yellow-billed Magpie), and the Central Coast is smack dab in wine nation. The Central Coast reds are particularly delicious. Cheers! Right here’s to your 12 months of birding.
I apologize to these many different favourite birding locations not included on this fantasy itinerary. However if you happen to occur to seek out your self on the coast of Texas in April or within the southern Appalachians in Could (say round Roanoke, Virginia), you owe it to your self to catch the surge of north- sure songbirds. And if, come June, you select to bypass the grasslands and head as much as Churchill, Manitoba, to take pleasure in arctic and sub-arctic breeders, no person can gain-say that call.
Alaska? Price a 12 months’s journey all by itself (properly, perhaps half a 12 months) with stops at Utqiagvik (previously Barrow), Nome, Gambell, Cordova, and perhaps a wilderness river journey or two courtesy of Wilderness Birding Adventures. Strive the Marsh Fork and Canning River rafting journey, out of the Brooks Vary and onto the Coastal Plain. You even float by Grey-headed Chickadee nation (arguably North America’s most-sought-after breeding hen).
If you end up in southern California in April, Butterbredt Spring attracts migrants out of the skinny, parched Mojave air the way in which blue velvet finds lint. Nevertheless, close by Audubon Kern River Protect gives safer and a lot simpler entry to birds in search of shelter at this desert oasis, and Kern will save put on and tear in your tires.
Deadheading in North Carolina whereas the household does the seaside factor? Contemplate a pelagic birding journey out of Hatteras. How else are you going to get a Bermuda Petrel in ABA waters?
Level Pelee, Bolivar Flats, Monhegan Island, Hawk Mountain, Using Mountain … There are such a lot of stellar factors on the birding circuit. It’s fortunate we have now a lifetime and never only a 12 months to suit all of them in. Chook on! And always remember all these hen festivals. They’re timed to rejoice the most effective birding a area has to supply. Attend all, and you might be within the instantaneous 700 Membership.
What you do with the remainder of your life is as much as you. Me? I simply watch the identical birds over and over.
This text seems within the “Birder at Massive” column within the January/February 2023 concern of BirdWatching.