“People often ask me how it is that I seem to be so much at peace. There is a primary reason — and it is available to all who wish to have it. Here’s a simple prerequisite to attaining peace at that level. I invite you to observe the beasts, birds and fish and let them teach you. Let this be a daily routine and life, as you know it, will never be the same.”
– Eddie Bo

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gearing Up for a Green Big Year

First of all, please excuse the present appearance of the blog.  The end of the year (and beginning of next year!) is suddenly upon me, and I have not yet invested more than a few minutes in this blog.   Hopefully soon you will be looking at a pleasing layout with photos, graphics, etc.

So, what is this "Green Big Year" stuff all about?  It's a birding thing.

The basic concept is to "see" (identify by sight or sound) as many bird species as possible in one year in a particular geographic area - this is the "Big Year" portion.  Perhaps you have seen the movie "The Big Year" (An OK but not stellar adaptation of the book in my opinion) which chronicles 3 birders who happen to all be doing a "Big Year" at the same time in the United States.

The "Green" part comes in if you attempt to do a Big Year by minimizing or eliminating the use of fossil fuels during your birding activities.  There are as yet no set rules for this sort of thing, so each participant can set their own, then hopefully stick to them through the year.

For me, I will attempt to use only human power to "see" as many bird species as possible during 2015 in the geographic area of Santa Barbara County, California, USA.  During this year I will also participate in birding activities that *do* directly involve fossil fuel consumption (driving a car, riding in boats, etc), but I will endeavor to do as much as possible under human power and separately track the species seen using only human power.

Why do this?  Well, for starters others have done this sort of thing before.  Presently Dorian Anderson is concluding his nationwide 2014 "Biking For Birds" tour and has set the bar very high for those in the future with well over 600 species tallied. See http://bikingforbirds.blogspot.com/  By comparison the Big Year Record is presently held by Neil Hayward who identified 749 species in 2013.

For me, over the past couple of years in lieu of a New Year's Resolution I have set myself a goal for the year.  Two years ago it was ride my bike 5,000 miles, which I did.  This year it was to concentrate on seeing birds - no particular numerical target, just get out there and see birds.  Without letting it totally consume my life (although my wife may have a differing opinion) I have managed to see 561 species this year, within that total ticking 371 species in the United States, and 274 species in Santa Barbara California, where I live.  So this year when I became aware of Dorian's "Biking For Birds" adventure, that seemed to plant the seed for the next obvious goal - and here we are.

I have put a few feelers out there to see what record I would be shooting for.  At this time it appears that nobody has attempted a Green Big Year in Santa Barbara County.  If this is not the case, please let me know!  Otherwise, it should be pretty straightforward for me to hold the record for at least one year!

More later,
Glenn Kincaid