So first off, today I've had 2 separate HOLAs fly by (41). It's gonna slow down for me quite a bit now, I fear, as there aren't many easy ones left, BDOW being the easiest, until spring migration begins.
More importantly, I want to suggest a new yardbird exercise: projecting your 2012 yardlist, both those species that are reasonable if you're trying hard, and those unexpected "left fielders." Part of my motivation is to figure out just how many species I can plausibly get. It also allows me to narrow down my species specific effort to those 'gettables' I need during any particular period of migration, and to keep me aware of what rarities to be paying attention for which I wasn't already thinking about. Anyway, I have added a new tab to the googledoc entitled "Yearlist Projections." I created 2 columns for myself "SIPU Left Fielders" and "SIPU reasonably gettable". Take a look, and follow suit if you feel so inclined.
For reference, the former column (left fielders) includes stuff that is possible but that I won't expect to get in any given year, like Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Long-eared Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Snow Goose, White Pelican, American Bittern, Great Egret, Night-Heron, Pluvialis sp. flyover, Connecticut Warbler, Lapland Longspur, etc." In any given year I might get a few of these, perhaps 5-10 if I am doing really well. The other category includes gimmes plus those species which, even though I know I will miss many of them in any given year, are absolutely plausible and borderline expected with proper effort. Obviously, subjective judgments will have to be made here. But for me, I am including stuff like Merlin, Peregrine, Least Bittern (I have a beautiful small, protected lake within earshot with perfect habitat), Marsh Wren (ditto), Forster's Tern (not common, but will be present on lake, and should be had if I scan often enough that time of year), Solitary Sandpiper, Mourning Warbler, Yellow-bellied Fly, Olive-sided Fly (I have beautiful habitat between the lakes), Rusty Blackbird. Again, it is obvious that I will miss some of these "gettables", but the exercise is still revealing.
My results: 179 "gettables" and another 46 "left field rarities" (!). My guess is that I'll likely miss ~15 of the gettables, but that I will get a few left fielders, which could put me in the range of 165. More likely, between missed warm fronts away from home and a handful of stupid misses, I would say high 150s might be more realistic. But if nothing else, this exercise has motivated me to burn the candles at both ends more than ever before, because if I get up near 160-165, there is a legit possibility that the likes of the normally unreachable RIBR and JOKA become mere mortals. Sleep tight, gents!
2013 and beyond
It's pretty simple: the most birds seen or heard from one's yard during 2013 will be the "winner". Want in? O.k....then do it despite that.
2013 promises to be a lot less mean but still a carbon-free birding competition, even if slightly less exciting than a MEGA x EPIC hybrid.