Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Looking Back on a Great Year!

Brian’s recent posts have provided an excellent summary of our Fur and Feathers 500 adventures in 2012, including some thoughtful advice for those who might wish to undertake a Canada Big Year of their own one day. He quite rightly offered thanks to the many people across Canada who were so happy to help us along the way and I would like to add my own thanks. We would never have been successful without their assistance but more than that, they made the whole experience a better one!

Our collective and individual goals for this Canada Big Year were set out in our early posts. A central theme was to meet our team target of 500 species and visit all 13 provinces and territories while doing so! For me, the geographic reach of our travels was equal in importance to our species target. I’m delighted we were able to accomplish both!  

People often ask us about highlights of the year. Which bird or mammal sighting was the most special? Which part of the country did we enjoy the most? I usually answer that it was the totality of the adventure that mattered more than anything else. Every trip had its special moments and collectively they have left us with a thousand good memories.  It’s true however that one or two experiences inevitably come up more often that the rest when talking to family and friends about our travels.

For me, quietly gliding through the fragmented pack ice in Repulse Bay, Nunavut, was an experience I will never forget and the close up encounter with a Polar Bear on that trip was the icing on the cake! I had travelled extensively in Canada even before this Big Year but I had never been to the Magdalene Islands or Haida Gwaii. Both are magnificent places and I encourage any reader who hasn’t been to these unique Canadian places to make the effort. You won’t be disappointed! Maybe you’ll even see a Rustic Bunting as we did while on Haida Gwaii – not by any means a particularly splendid looking bird but probably one of my most memorable sightings of the year if only because a) it’s very rare and b) I actually got a decent photo of it! 

I have always enjoyed seabirds and we did quite a bit of pelagic birding during the course of the year.  Indeed, we spent a lot more time on boats than any of us expected. Phil kept count of our various boat trips and I can’t recall the final count but it must have been close to 50!  We made several trips out of Brier Island, NS into the Bay of Fundy and here again is a place I would highly recommend to our readers. Not only is the pelagic birding rewarding but so is the whaling!  

One of my personal goals last year was to bring my Canada Bird Life List up to a more respectable 425 species. I’m delighted to report that I soared above this target, reaching 442 by year end! Maybe I can edge that up to 450 during the coming year? Another goal was to become a bit more knowledgeable about Canadian mammals during the course of the year. I enjoyed the mammaling but I’d have to say that all our mammal chasing really taught me was just how appallingly little I know about them! Like Brian however, I’m hoping to bring my tally of Canadian mammals seen up to a nice round 100 eventually.

This will be my final posting on this site so what better time than now to thank Brian, Mike and Phil for a splendid year of good fellowship and shared adventures all across this great country. We set out to do this Big Year as a team and that's exactly what we did! May we have many more birding experiences together in the years to come!

And finally – a big thank you to my wife Agnes.  Agnes supported my participation in this Canada Big Year 100% - right from the start!  Whenever asked, Agnes declares with considerable energy that she is most certainly NOT a “Birder”.  She does however admit to being a “Birder’s Companion”. In 2013 we’re hoping to do some international travelling together and while such travels never focus exclusively on birding I’m sure that at one point or another, she will once again be this Birder’s Companion!  I'm a lucky birder indeed!
Good birding everyone!

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