Holiday seasons are fun if too busy and too hectic for much relaxing or computer time. The busiest part of my holiday celebration is over now, so I am already looking ahead to 2015. I am hoping that 2015 will be a "normal" year for me, so that, unlike 2014, I’ll be able to return to my regular amount of birding and traipsing around. 2014 didn’t give me much time for that, but the known activities ahead of me in 2015 are less than those of this year, so there is reason for my hope.
As a result, I am already plotting my New Year’s Day birding. I fell woefully short of my normal birding this year, and too many other county birders leapt ahead of me in E-bird. For the first time ever I dropped out of the top 5 to number 15 on the year list. And as little birding as I did, #15 is better than I deserve. I am still #5 in the all-time list, so that’s something.
I am fanatical only about my county bird list, as I have neither the time nor the money to pursue a country or state list. Some time after I retire, I do want to attempt a big state year in Pennsylvania, but that’s as lofty a goal as I can aspire to. Until then, my county list is my passion, and this year I simply haven’t had the time to work it with my usual zeal. However, 2015 looms ahead in a mere three days, so my retribution isn’t far off.
First off is the weather, which looks suitable for birding, if chilly. It should be sunny, a rare occurrence over the last month. In winter, especially, sunny weather helps.
Next is planning the routes. I will start and end the day at Roundtop. I’ll spend at least the first 30-60 minutes of the birding day checking my own feeders and the area around the ski resort for the usual suspects. So far, I haven’t seen anything unusual, so I’m not expecting some exotic wintering bird to be around. However, finding the usual birds here means I won’t have to focus on them during my travels.
After Roundtop, I’ll head to Pinchot State Park, just three miles away. There, I will look for waterfowl mostly and perhaps sparrows, trying to scare up any of the common birds that were hiding at Roundtop. After that I’ll head to the Susquehanna River, hoping for a few gulls and perhaps a bald eagle. Last year I did get two bald eagles on January 1 at Pinchot, but they are probably more likely on the river.
After that, I’m still deciding where will be my next stop. It will likely depend on how well I’ve done to this point—or not. On January 1, 40 species are possible here, but I’ve never made that number. I always miss something, often something "easy." Who knows? Maybe this will be the year that I tally 40 species on New Year’s Day. It’s something to look forward to.