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2013 Utah Birder Photo Big Year Recap

posted by Utah Birders at
on Sunday, January 26, 2014 

The year came, it happened, and now it's in the past.  And 5 Utah Birders stood up to the challenge and did a Photo Big Year!  Big Ups to the 5 who took part in this very unofficial, and friendly game of "photo the birds of Utah".  The rules were simple--find and photograph as many birds in Utah in 2013 as you can.  And so it happened.  Below are a few pictures, and words from the those who took part!

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Wilson's Snipe by Nate Brown

Nate Brown

This was a fun challenge as I've never photographed birds in Utah, let alone kept an annual count. I enjoyed the photos mostly for showcasing the variety of birds in Utah, but also as a useful tool for identifying purposes. PLEASE let me know if any of these are misidentified!

Thanks to everyone who posted on Ubird and eBird, and thanks to anyone that helped located, identify, and email/respond to inquiries.  Also a special thanks to Uncle Bill for the awesome photography equipment.

Birds I didn't get pictures of: American Crow, American Tree Sparrow, Barrow's Goldeneye (lost the pic), Black-billed Magpie (seriously!), Brown Creeper, California Quail, Horned Grebe (lost the pic), Marsh Wren, Red-breasted Merganser (lost the pic), Sage Trasher (lost the pic), Turkey Vulture (seriously!)

Tough identifications for me (please offer opinions or misidentified images) - Terns: Common vs. Forester's; Flycatchers: Gray, Hammond's, Dusky, etc.: Yellowlegs: Greater vs. Lesser (especially at a distance); and Thrushs: Hermit vs. Swainson's.
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Red Crossbill by Tim Avery

Tim Avery

So where to start... I was gung-ho from day 1--I knew I would photograph over 300 species this year, and maybe, just maybe take a shot at my previous photo big year record of 332.  I was off to a really good start bird # and photo wise--but then this summer I just hit a brick wall and came to  a halt-- after the first week of June, I didn't really go birding much the rest of the summer, and took next to no pictures--then I was gone for an entire month during migration--and once I got back was bed ridden for about 5 weeks--then it was November and too late for a lot of birds.  The year came to a close and I had barely scratched past 250 photos.

Oops.  I already know that quite a few people did better than me, and I think that's awesome!  I guess I will have to wait and try this again when I know I wont be doing any heavy traveling for a year and can really get after the specialty birds, and be here for the entire fall.  Can't wait for the 2014 challenge--its a doosey!

• • •

Western Screech-Owl by Dickson Smith

Dickson Smith

I must add that I too enjoyed the challenge that Tim put out there for us to try and photograph all the species we could for the year 2013. I was able to compile a total of 266 photos and a observation list of 286 for the year. Trying to lug my 600mmm lens around everywhere I went birding made for an additional challenge but still was fun. There were several species that were seen by others and reported that I was unable to locate after many tries, but which I hope I can observe this year

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Blue Jay by Stephanie Greenwood

Stephanie Greenwood

I loved this challenge because by the end of 2012 I had all but given up taking photos. I am glad that I started again because now I have a whole collection of photos--mostly terrible--that remind me of the good times and good birds I saw over the year. Seeing a Blue Jay in my very own neighborhood was probably one of the most exciting things of the year, so I chose that as my favorite photo. But probably my highlight of the year was the day I took my first-ever trip up to Kolob Reservoir. My best-yet views of Lewis's Woodpeckers, lifer Acorn Woodpeckers, lifer Pygmy Nuthatches, lifer Grace's Warbler. Also a first that day was finding Grafton and getting lifer Scott's Oriole and Black-chinned Sparrows. And getting bit by painfully venomous Harvester Ants and having to strip down to my britches and shake out my pants and treat my wounds. Luckily Grafton is a ghost town. Despite the pain and welts that lasted for weeks, the amazing birding made up for it, and plus I have a fun story to tell.  (One that my friends are probably tired of hearing.) All in all, 2012 was a great year, I learned a ton about Utah and the birds that live in and visit our state!

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Little Gull by Kenny Frisch

Kenny Frisch

It was fun visiting many new areas of Utah in 2013. I got to see 43 new Utah birds in habitats ranging from above treeline to the Mojave Desert. 10 of those species were lifers for me as well. Utah birding is the best.

• • •

The were no losers in 2013, only winners--those who took part are all winners for going out and tackling something differen this year! So congrats to the 5; and Kenny well done tracking down and photographing 315 species this past year--that's a very impressive feat!

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Blogger Tim Avery said...

Congrats Kenny, and everyone else that took part--I think everyone that took part had a good time and really stepped into something that's difficult and did a good job!

January 27, 2014 at 12:55 PM  

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