Birding, Last Mountain Lake, SK 2006?
I have to start by saying I would not call myself a full-fledged birder (pun intended). I think of myself as a naturalist first and birder second. Actually if the truth be told, a naturalist first, a herper second and a birder third. But since birds are active through out the year while herptiles (reptiles and amphibians) hibernate or aestivate then like many people I spend more time looking at birds. Also you often have to have herptiles in hand to identify them, birds are much easier - except for those damn Empidonax flycatchers. I'm just waiting for the day that someone says that entire genus interbreeds and we can lump them as one species.
I didn't really start birding until 1974 when I moved to Newfoundland to work with Terra Nova National Park. Up until then I had lived in Nova Scotia focusing on herptiles and small mammals. When I moved to Newfoundland with no native herptiles and only one native small mammal I had to look elsewhere. So I became interested in birding.
The first few years were especially exciting since even common species were new to me. I can still remember identifying my first bird in the field using a field guide - a Black and White Warbler. It was also an unusual year as well since one of the first birds I identified with a group of expert birders included some from Britain was a Spotted Redshank, an accidental northern Eurasian species.
For about ten years I kept fairly good records but always in different books or field checklists purchased at some park's visitor centre. Like all new birders I kept a life list and kept it updated for awhile. I did pretty well until around 1989 when I moved to Saskatchewan. I've had less concern for keeping lists so I know there are some western species that I've seen but can't find any record of when I've seen them. However to be honest there are many common western species I've not seen yet either. I plan to go through my pile of different checklists and field notes and finish compiling my life list. So the following shows the 420 or so species that I know I've seen and have records for.
In the following list some entries are simple - just year and state. That is because when I was visiting I used one of the state checklists to record my observations but I may not have specified where I actually saw the bird. Personally that doesn't matter to me since I know I saw that species but it might bother birders who wants very specific location information. As I go through my various lists I will be able to give more detail. Also there are species that I know I saw at a specific time or event, such as the AAZK conference in San Mateo or on a Christmas Bird Count and when I re-check my journals I will be able to find actual dates.
The actual list has all of the bird species of North America on it with my personal notes beside those that I've seen. I don't remember where I got this list or I'd give them credit. I thought it was from www.birding.com, a great birding site, but I couldn't find the list when I went back to check. However www.birding.com is still a great site to check out.
I have not been updating the list above. When you go to that page, if you skip to the bottom you will see a list of the 549 bird species that I have seen. The list is now 552 and I will update this list shortly.