The birding gloves have been thrown down, and the race is on. Vermont vs. California. With a mere two months of birding left in 2015, Vermont birders in wool hats, gloves, and insulated boots are taking on a single Californian powered entirely by foot and bicycle, and birding only in Santa Barbara County. Who can come up with the top species total by midnight on December 31?
Inveterate Vermont birder Tom Berriman alerted many of us in mid-October to his friend Glenn Kincaid’s Santa Barbara County Big Green Year. Glenn has amassed an impressive county total of 261 species so far in 2015, covering 3371 miles by bike and ~2.5 miles on foot (for which he doesn’t count casual birding at birding sites reached by bike). Glenn is out virtually every day and regularly posts on his blog. His first 2015 bird was a White-crowned Sparrow on January 1, his most recent a vagrant Rose-breasted Grosbeak on October 17. It turns out that Glenn and Vermont eBird are neck-and-neck for the year — our statewide total stands at 264 as of October 26.
Tom posed a challenge in his October 9 post to the VTBIRD listserve, offering to donate $100 in support of Vermont eBird if VT ends the year ahead of Glenn, or $100 to Santa Barbara Audubon Society if Glenn bests us. eBird will be the official score keeper and arbitrator. Glenn eagerly accepted that challenge (see his October 9 blog post), and now, with Tom’s blessing, we’re extending the competition to benefit Vermont eBird. We challenge any and all birders, whether from VT, CA or anywhere else, to make a pledge!
You can simply e-mail VCE at gro.s1493451241eidut1493451241socet1493451241v@ofn1493451241i1493451241 with your intended level of support in this “winner-take-all” challenge.
Can we hit the unprecedented 300 species mark in Vermont before the ball drops in Times Square? Our previous top eBird total was 294 in 2011. We’ll need some luck, an early and strong winter finch invasion, some western vagrants, a storm-tossed pelagic or two, perhaps some wanderers from the south (no White-eyed Vireo or Yellow-breasted Chat on the 2015 eBird state list yet!). The main goal of this extended challenge is to get all of us birders out and reporting our finds to Vermont eBird. If we raise some extra funds to support this powerful vehicle for science, conservation and recreation, so much the better. Let’s hit the woods, fields and lakeshores — 300 species or bust!