2006 was a very good year for me. After all, this was the year my incredible daughter, Ivy was born, the year my magnificent son, Mason transitioned from a baby to a kid, a witty one at that. It was another 365 days to enjoy with my fabulous wife and assorted friends and family. 2006 was also a brilliant year for birding, definitely my best to date.
My 2006 year list came in at a whopping 302. This number may not be so hot compared to some (heck, the City Birder beat that in New York State alone!) but it far surpassed my expectations. In the midst of my business travels and pleasure cruises, I managed to rack up 83 life birds. The Core Team together viewed 35 lifers. True, 19 of these were from outside the ABA area, but I was also fortunate to move some previously seen birds like Anhinga, Purple Gallinule, Gray Kingbird, and others onto my ABA list.
So much happened this year that it’s tough to pick out only ten top moments (thanks for the idea, Birdchaser) but following are birding memories I’ll always enjoy:
10. Our first pelagic trip
It’s hard to imagine that a twelve-hour excursion through New York’s winter waters might be a fond memory, but our introduction to pelagic birding was marked by superb birds and company. Our whale-watching voyage in Maine was far more efficient, if not productive, and the accommodations couldn’t be beat, but like I’ve said, whale watching is not the same as bird watching.
9. Sandy Hook with Patrick
Hitting the famed Hook in Hawk Owl’s Nest style was definitely the right way to do it. That teeming mass of Tree Swallows alone was worth the trek.
8. Jamaica Bay with Amy
Sharing one of my favorite birding spots with the WildBird on the Fly was a blast. The life White-eyed Vireo was gravy.
7. Sterling Forest with Charlie
The international bird blogger and I couldn’t find our Cerulean Warbler, but we certainly picked up plenty of other prizes.
6. Riverdale Park during spring migration
Discovering decent birding habitat within a mile of my home made me happy. Discovering Blue-headed and Philadelphia Vireos there made me ecstatic!
5. Rollins Savanna in summer
This pristine parcel of prairie exceeded my expectations for grassland greatness.
4. Discovering Arrowhead Marsh
Who knew that premier birding habitat could be enjoyed less than a mile from the Oakland airport. I visited in both spring and summer and was blown away each time.
3. Loving Lakeview Drive
The highlight of our Bahamas vacation was uncovering the unassuming grandeur of the ponds of Lakeview Drive on Paradise Island. These modest bodies of water sandwiched between resort property and a public beach yielded many of the local specialties with no special effort at all.
2. A morning in the Everglades
Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge for breakfast with a chaser of Wakadohatchee Wetlands satisfied my hunger for the best of Florida birding.
1. Make mine Mines Road
This route is a revelation. One stunning rustic road packs in enough astonishing diversity of habitat and wildlife to make your head spin. Mine certainly did. After spotting all those desert specialties along with Yellow-billed Magpie, I’m still reeling!
Great list! It’ll be tough to top all of those experiences this year, but that’s half the fun.
That outing was one of my 2006 highlights, too!