This year I've taken a part-time job doing bird point counts and other bird surveys for a local consulting company. We're studying the birds that are using the site of a future wind project near Blackfoot, in Bingham County, Idaho. It's been a great job for me because it has given me professional bird experience, it's kept me in the field in a time when my PhD work is all in the office, and it is only every other weekend, so it hasn't interfered too much with my PhD work. The best part, though, is that it has forced me to explore the birds of a rarely birded part of Idaho. (Oh, and I get paid!).
I started off with the goal of seeing 100 species in the county, but then a casual conversation with my friend Craig ended up raising the bar. Craig is going to try to see how many species he can see in Cache County this year (like I did back in 2008). So I made a bet with him that I could see more than half as many birds on my eight or nine work trips to Bingham County as he could in a year in his home county. At stake is a six pack of the winner's favorite beer from the Logan liquor store, plus a little bit of bragging rights.
The record for the most species seen in a year in Cache County is 242. I think if I can see over 120 species in Bingham County, I'll have a very good chance of winning the bet. If I can see over 130, Craig is pretty much sunk. So far, I'm at 108, but there's plenty of easy ones still to find. . . .