Wednesday, January 21, 2009

EPILOGUE: 295 Species, 0 Gallons Gasoline

It's now really over. Turns out Josiah and I actually tied in our species counts for the year. He added a couple of good species late in the year including Northern Shrike, American Bittern and Barrow's Goldeneye, all good birds I didn't see all year! So we both ended up with 295 species (294 without Eurasian Teal). Just a day or two into 2009 I found the bird above, an American Bittern, in the rushes at nearby North Lake, Golden Gate Park. Shoot! One more species I could have found in 2008.

After finally getting my list straight, I can't believe how close Josiah and I both were to seeing an amazing 300 species in one year by bike. Josiah added three species relatively nearby I could have seen had I just gotten out on my bike (too busy with other holiday stuff I guess). Add this to two or three species I probably could have seen had I put in a little extra effort, such as the Tufted Duck in nearby Oakland, shown above, and I could have definitely broken 300 species by bike. Of course, I could not have even come close to this locally--it all depended on our big bike ride all the way to Mono Lake and back in the summer.

And believe it or not, 295 species puts Josiah and I number one for birds seen by bike in 2008!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

That's It

Finally, the year is over. No new birds for the year since my last posting. I did however have a new San Francisco species, a small flock of Yellow-headed Blackbirds that flew over the Presidio during the San Francisco Christmas Bird Count. 2008's BIGBY (or by bike list) is at 294 ABA species (one more if you count the Common or "Eurasian" Teal seen this spring at Las Galinas). And I saw 234 species in San Francisco by bike. That's pretty good for a small county. Even though I went on some long rides this year, this was really about birding locally.

Well it's been a good year. You learn a lot by focusing on birds relentlessly, day after day, for a whole year. I think a lot more than you would in a years worth of observation spread out over parts of many springs and falls. Birding every day really gets you in touch with the seasons and the movements of birds in a way that otherwise you just see little fragments of.

And it was all self-propelled/zero emissions/non-polluting/car-free/by bike/by foot. You learn a lot by biking every day too, for instance, how heavily favored cars are out here in California. Everything from the traffic laws, the roads, the urban planning, the vehicle designs and even the attitudes of the people makes biking harder than it could be. Nonetheless, if you find your niche, and know the roads you bike on, you can enjoy biking most days. It was great to see a lot of birds this year. But truth be told they're all birds I could see again by car or jet quite easily. Honestly, a more important measure of this big year would be the number of bike trips I inspired other people to take. I know some co-workers took up biking to work a little extra, in part inspired by my enthusiasm. And even my own mother--who's driven to work her whole life--is talking about getting a bike and riding it to work once in a while (Mom, it would be a really pleasant ride if you did decide to do it!). I really hope too, that a few of the complete strangers who we talked to on our trip across the center of the state--"You two bicycled here all the way from San Francisco!"--will think to themselves that they can do it to, and that it is possible to get somewhere far away on your bike. This applies especially to birders. Let's follow the lead of Malkolm Boothroyd's Bird Year, let's not just see an exciting list of birds this year, but lets also make every trip to see a new species an adventure.