It was a great birding year, starting with a late migrating american pipit at Montrose on Jan. 2. One thread throughout 2011 was my use of the eBird tracking tool. For no reason in particular, I embarked on a slow-speed chase to be one of the top 100 eBirders in Illinois. I fell short on my quest, ending up 113th with 119 species at the time of this writing. But I can count strange achievements like being the 73rd-ranked eBirder in the state of South Dakota, because of our week-long trip there, and 47th in the Bahamas.
I added seven birds to my life list: Bell's vireo, Henslow's sparrow, american dipper, upland sandpiper, mountain bluebird, plumbeous vireo and snowy owl. A snow-less winter, ironically, capped by a snowy owl sighting. Our trip to the Bahamas yielded a number of island specialities and a tally of 33 species, including LaSagra's flycatcher and thick-billed vireo--both common in Eleuthera but resident only on a couple of other islands.
The birding adventure starts over again tomorrow, starting at zero species for 2012. Should be fun.