You've probably never read the Terms and Conditions section of Blogspot, have you? Yeah it's OK, most people haven't. I'm not most people, of course. I've read those things from top to bottom, check for updates twice a month, and have run it through Google Translate and read it in German to check for discrepancies.
When you're as familiar as I am with the particularities of this here ol' web logging service, you'll be acquainted with Section 10.4(g)(1). This nifty little provision states (and I'm putting it in layman's terms for you, no need to thank me) that every Blogspot-hosted birding-themed blog MUST (no uncertain terms here) have a post in the last two weeks of December or first two of January summarizing the prior year's birding efforts. The penalty for noncompliance is fifteen broken image links scattered through old posts and an additional year's worth of mysterious, unsolvable formatting errors.
Being the upstanding, law-abiding citizen that I am (Falmouth High School's Most Likely To Walk The Straight And Narrow 2001), please enjoy the following dump of information, images, maps and whatever else I can come up with about the glorious birding adventures I undertook in that already-half-remembered lurching spin 'round the Sun known to the kids searching Wikipedia as 2014 AD.
1. I Saw More ABA Species This Year Than Any Previous Year
Last year I ended at 399 goddamn birds, an annoying number that somehow lessened the whole thing, like a photograph with one person's eyes closed. I panicked after dipping on the reliable (before and after) Black-headed Gull near Baltimore and floundered around for the last days of the year, unable to get over the hump. The lesson learned was that such unsatisfying proximity would not be repeated. I was determined to hit 400. LONG STORY SHORT my girlfriend-now-fiancee (thank you) agreed to a road trip to Florida, one thing led to another, and I landed at 413.
[Quick funny story: Once I hit 400 I immediately did as birders do and took aim at my buddy Jake's record of 413. I spend Dec. 31 in a frantic dash across southern Florida looking to pick up birds, succeeding at least to tie the record...that is until Jake told me his record was actually 423 not 413 and that I was an idiot.]
Anyway here's a chart of my now 10th full year of birding. The blue bars show my year-end ABA number, and the orange line showing my cumulative ABA life list, now sitting at 639.
This was the rarest bird I saw all year, but - and sorry for the heresy here - dang was it not much to look at. I love terns, but this guy was just chilling on the beach, not flying, and looked really not at all different from a breeding Common Tern or Forster's. It just wasn't a thrilling experience.
Just a stunning bird.
2. Colima Warbler - Big Bend National Park - April 9
No picture, sadly, but anyone who has ever made the trek up the mountain to the Boot Springs Trail knows what an accomplishment - what a relief! - it is to see a Colima. It was extra special for us, because the earliest eBird reports for Colima were a week or so later than when were arrived. Undaunted, we made the trek and were rewarded. The margarita's tasted extra sweet.
1. Greater Sage-Grouse - Price, UT - March 20
With all the swirling controversy around these birds, it was incredible to have a genuine experience. It took me awhile to hear their bouncy-ball songs, then triangulate it to the birds themselves, but I tell you, I had no more satisfying birding experience this year than standing alone at dawn on a cold road in the middle of Utah, watching these birds stamp around and court their ladies. The morning epitomized everything I love about birding, and it was my favorite bird of 2014.