Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 Birding Year in Review: Egrets, we've had a few..

2016, what a year, huh? In some ways, we needed birds more than ever this year, and they came through. As is tradition here on bird blog, we're going to take today and look back at some of the best moments and most memorable moments in the last year. Interspersed will be some random pictures from this year that didn't really fit in anywhere else. Finally, we're gonna set some brand new birding resolutions.

Birding Highlights 2016

We blogged 48 times last year, including some really cool birds I was happy to add to my life list. Hawaiian birds were an obvious highlight, with the 'apapane being probably my favorite, as it was a now increasingly rare Hawaiian native bird. From there I focused on cool Southern California birds for a while, getting the very desirable California Condor, Black Skimmer, and Phainopepla. I was proud of myself for getting more frequent timely blogs out there. We had special blogs for valentine's day, the presidential election, and christmas, to name a few.

Some of my best photos this year, to my eye, were in my Florida birds entry (both the Cranes and the Great Blue Heron stand out to me) and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. My personal favorite entries were probably my beloved .gifs. I'm not sure if anyone likes them but me (they don't get particularly more traffic or anything), but I'm going to keep doing them darn it. Check out my Planet Earth II review, my Halloween crow gifs, or, again the Valentine's Day blog, which contains some of the things I've made this year that I'm proudest of. Oh, and this. The most popular blog this year was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Who's That Pokebird (and part 2). I successfully capitalized on a trend! Look, I'm learning media! I also think it's a pretty good and fun blog, so go read it maybe.


So last year I said I'd do some stuff. Let's see how I did. Did I get into more calendars and photo contests (Resolution 1)? Well, I entered a few, but didn't actually make it. This might be too ambitious of a goal, so I'm going to start with something smaller. I would say I kept up a good pace of social media interaction (R2) (for me, at least) and succeeded in birding more current-events related stuff (R3). And did I go to the Farrallons (R4)? Well, yes, I totally did. Unfortunately, I became violently ill 1/4 of the way through the 4 hour boat ride and got approximately 0.5 usable pictures (seen above). My wife swears there were amazing whales and birds, but I didn't see them. It was probably my biggest failure of the year, aside from preventing Donald Trump's election with my biting social commentary. So let's say I succeeded in approximately half of my resolutions. Not bad!

Here's what I'm going to focus on this year

1. Do more local birding. I want to focus on my own Beautiful Bay Area and highlight some locations around here that are some of my favorites for birds. I want to focus on locations more in general, actually, and I think it'll help me with the looming specter of running out of new birds.

2. Find more time for solo birding. My current methods generally involve combining birding with various trips and vacations, or with hiking around with friends or family. This is not the best arrangement for birding or my travel companions, since there's sometimes a tug between wanting to get a slightly better picture and trying not to slow our group's pace to a crawl. As such, I want to try to use some more of my time to go on walks dedicating more specifically to birding and take my time to get the best shots and the most illusive birds.

3. Learn more about my camera. Not sure how to do this, but I've gotta start somewhere. There are a lot of settings that I just don't know what to do with and maybe knowing how to toggle them would fix some of the (rare) issues I have with the camera. Currently my biggest frustrations come from shots that end up focusing on the background behind the bird (see #worstbirdpic for more on this), or from not being able to take a good picture of a white bird in full light under basically any circumstance.

4. See about getting some photos in a local business. This is my new 'get out there' goal. There are coffee shops and restaurants around here that seem to showcase local artists, and maybe I'm good enough for that. Won't know if I don't try. I've been inspired to try this by seeing a friend do a similar thing with his new photography hobby.

5. Keep getting those blogs out to you, the people. Isn't this the most important goal of all?

Happy new year, folks, see you next week.

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