First, a couple of definitions. If I go to a spot looking for birds, without prior knowledge of what has been seen there recently, and locate a bird (in this case usually an unusual or unlikely bird), than I have “found” that bird. If someone else finds a bird and reports it, then I go looking for it, I have “chased” that bird. Basically, see a bird with no prior information = find, see a bird with prior information = chase.
As you may imagine, many birders take great pleasure in finding interesting or unusual birds. Let’s face it, it is simply more challenging and rewarding to find a bird than to have the “advantage” of prior information when chasing.
As you may have noticed, this year I have been doing a great deal of chasing (and very little finding). Chasing is simply the most efficient way to see as many different species. This is especially true given the fact it takes me longer to get places and I can cover less distance in a day when I am on my bicycle. I don’t feel badly about all this chasing, as it has been effective in adding species to the year’s list. I do hope to do some finding later in the year, especially if or when the list of birds within range that can be chased has been exhausted.
In thinking about this finding and chasing business, I came up with a new concept for a big year – the “no chase” big year. In this big year, the participant(s) would have to somehow ignore all bird sighting reports (e-bird, local lists, word of mouth, etc.) and find all of their own birds. In this day and age I believe it would be very difficult to disconnect yourself from the seemingly omnipresent flow of information and accomplish this. A crazy idea, but perhaps someone will (or even has!) take it up.
I will be back chasing birds in Santa Barbara soon, until then I leave you with these Rosy-finch photos from the last few days in Alta, Utah.
Gray-crowned Rosy-finch (Interior)
Gray-crowned Rosy-finch (Coastal)