2013 was a virtual Big Year for our intrepid and omnipresent field companion, Ludlow G., who attempted to see as many birds (and assemble a deep database) in Concord and immediately adjacent areas. Our task was in some ways quite different from a true Big Year like Neil Hayward’s, which involved extensive travel and substantial resources; Ludlow G. kept it local, with a focus on patch birding and extensive surveys of under-birded areas. Above all, ours was a collaborative effort, with as many eyes on birds in as many places at as many times as possible. Think of it as a year-long town CBC, with eBird as the reporting tool and Ludlow G. as the compiler, with yours truly as the impresario and secretary.
As a proof-of-concept, we succeeded well beyond our goals. Based on a the usual total of about 200 birds encountered in Middlesex County in a given year, and on town patch totals of around 170 species by a few individuals, we set a modest goal of 200 birds for the year, hoping perhaps for a few more and the participation of perhaps a dozen birders. By the end of June we had reached 190 birds, and passed 200 in August, with dozens of birders contributing eBird and field lists to Ludlow (and keeping me very busy during migration!). As of December 24th, with a stunning Red-Throated Loon found on the Concord River by the Great Meadows Survey team, Ludlow G. finishes the year with a round 225 species, with 950 checklists contributed by some three dozen individuals and groups. See a full summary (in draft) here.
While 200 birds in Concord is still within the reach of highly motivated birders (Cole Winstanley finished with 190; I finished with 188), it takes many eyes to find a string of rarities like we had this fall: American Golden Plover (Jim McCoy); Buff-Breasted Sandpiper (Lucas Hale); Grey-Cheeked Thrush and Red Headed Woodpecker (Willy Hutcheson); Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Cackling Goose, Lapland Longspur (Cole and Jalen Winstanley); Olive Sided Flycatcher, Connecticut Warbler, Western Kingbird (David Sibley); Black Scoter (David Swain); Roughleg/Rough-Legged Buzzard/Hawk (Bob Stymeist); Snowy and Short-Eared Owls (Simon Perkins); and Red-Throated Loon (GMNWR Survey).
It has been a pleasure and vicarious thrill to receive and read every report, get your text messages from the field, and track your observations on MassBird or using the BirdTrax tool on my blog, BirdingwithLudlow.blogspot.com. I hope I have acknowledged and thanked you for them all. I take this opportunity to thank my friends in Concord and the extended MassBird community for their interest and support of this project.
Good Birding in 2014!
David Swain and Ludlow G.