[Tweeters] Seattle big year

Matt Dufort matt.dufort at gmail.com
Tue Jan 8 08:06:17 PST 2019

Hi Tweets,

Last year, I decided to focus primarily on local birding, and see how many
species I could find in a year within the Seattle city limits. I thought
200 should be possible with some effort and luck, and after talking up the
idea to Spencer Hildie, he joined me on the quest. One of us succeeded in
reaching that target - I managed to find 198 species, while Spencer found
an impressive 203!

Some personal highlights:

1. Starting off the year with lingering Rose-breasted Grosbeak and
Mountain Chickadee.
2. 179 species in Discovery Park alone, by far my highest yearly total
there. I also recorded my 200th species in the park in March, and got to
see goodies like LeConte's Sparrow, Harris's Sparrow, Northern Goshawk, and
Ruddy Duck (the last quite rare in the park).
3. Some great Seattle birds on our May 5 King County big day, including
Clark's Grebe, Solitary Sandpiper, and Lewis's Woodpecker.
4. The string of rarities found by Sam Terry at Alki, most of which were
very cooperative.
5. A fantastic run in late October to early November, when I picked up a
number of species I'd missed earlier in the year, and started thinking that
200 just might be possible.

Some lowlights:

1. Being stuck at 197 since November 9, struggling to turn up something
rare or hoping that others might, and seeing only one more new species by
year's end.
2. Not mustering any true pelagic birds, despite spending long hours
seawatching at West Point, and many other folks seeing seabirds in the
Sound this fall.
3. Failing to find a Greater White-fronted Goose no matter how hard I
tried. I did see a few *from* Discovery, but they were clearly outside
the city limits, flying near Bainbridge Island.
4. The Great Horned Owl that spent fall 2017 in Discovery, and
disappeared after December 30. Not a common bird in the city, and I failed
to find one in 2018.

I hear a lot about county and state big years, but not as many in smaller
geographic areas. I'd be curious to hear from anyone who's done one,
especially any previous Seattle big years.

Thanks to Spencer for sharing the adventure and many birds with me, and to
all the local birders who shared birds and/or time in the field over the
course of the year. I'm not sure exactly what I'm doing in 2019, but I
hope to see you all out there!

Good birding,
Matt Dufort
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