Best Birds 2021

Water bird (et al.) winter

Today (1/17) kicks off the year in earnest, as we’re done quarantining after traveling for the holidays. We saw the pink-footed geese in northern NJ! The next weekend, we went to my parents house to drop off a few things and successfully tried for the green-tailed towhee while we were out that way. We spent the winter/early spring on pelagic trips: in Feb we got to see Atlantic puffin (2/21) and in Mar (3/21) we saw northern fulmar and sooty shearwater.

World Series of Birding

David and I began our scouting for the World Series of Birding (4/18) by relocating a singing Swainson’s warbler! True to form, we didn’t get to actually see it, but it’s a great bird for the island. I’m happy to say we had it again on the big day (5/8)!

Spring of the shorebirds

I spent a few consecutive days at Brig starting 5/13 and I got to watch a white-rumped sandpiper in perfect light. Certainly not a lifer, but it was quite close and I was able to leisurely scope it for awhile, and I got a great look at the white rump as it took off! So, it makes the summary as a lovely image I remember from this year. Two days later, I got some digiscope photos and video of this species. I also got my lifer curlew sandpiper (5/15)! Then the following day, I got to see my lifer Pacific golden-plover!


An all-day (24-hr 8/14) pelagic off NJ turned up black-capped petrel. I also got to see band-rumped storm-petrel for the 1st time since my 1st ever pelagic!

Rio Grande Valley

After I landed at HRL Dec 4, we went straight for the fork-tailed flycatcher at San Benito wetlands. Luckily, we found vermilion flycatcher there as well! We went onto Yost pond where we saw, if I’m honest, the bird I was most excited about for the trip: least grebe. Then, we headed to the AirBnb where we saw a perched Harris’ hawk downtown. We spent the rest of the afternoon at Edinburg scenic wetlands, where we found plain chachalaca, hooded oriole, long-billed thrasher, golden-fronted woodpecker and buff-bellied hummingbird!

Santa Ana NWR has free admission the 1st Sunday of the month, so we spent most of the next day (Dec 5) there. We were lucky to see verdin, black-crested titmouse, ladder-backed woodpecker and green kingfisher. Later in the afternoon, we went to the National Butterfly Center where we saw Altamira oriole, green jay and olive sparrow at the feeder.

The next day (Dec 6) we headed to Bentsen state park and spent much of the day at the hawk platform. In the morning, we had flyby ringed kingfishers, and by afternoon we really lucked out with hook-billed kite. The following day was my 35th birthday so I chose to go back! We had white-tailed hawks right outside the park, and again ended the day at the butterfly center, this time finding lesser goldfinch at the feeder.

On our last full day (Dec 10), we rounded out the incredible luck by meeting up with a friend to see mountain plovers! Then, we went on to see Aplomado falcon and long-billed curlews at Laguna Atascosa NWR.

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