I have this friend... my best friend... who also happens to be a birder. He's not just a birder, but he's a passionate birder such as myself. If I am hyped about a sighting, or a potential new hotspot- he's the first person I call to tell about it. When I started listing last year, and setting number goals... when I whined that I could never hit 300, he was the first person to help me have a little bit of faith in myself. He has always believed in me more than I have.
So, when I started off this year with 100 within the first two weeks, pretty much knocking out the vast majority of northern Alabama birds, I got excited. I got hyped. I just wanted to see ALL THE BIRDS. Therefore, I start talking about a trip to Texas, to Florida, to Ohio... I want to go somewhere! A trip with a friend to St. Marks gets cancelled, and it leaves me an open weekend. At the last minute- I decide on the Rio Grande Valley. I tell my friend how exciting it would be to have 200 on my year list by the end of January.
When he hears that, he makes the comment that it would sound like an awesome start to a Big Year.
An awesome start to a Big Year. Those words would change this year for me forever. Completely inspired by what seemed like such an innocuous statement, I decide to go for it. I may not have the what-seems-like unlimited resources that the hardcore Big Year birders have... but I have a van, a couple weekends free a month, and the drive to see as many birds as I can- even if that means all I eat on a trip is energy/protein bars and coffee. Even if that means I have to sleep in my van instead of a motel. Even if that means I drive 36 hours in a weekend, just to bird for six. I have the drive and determination, and I believe, though it may not get me to the 700 club- I believe it will take me far this year in my search for birds.
Now I will end this post with the obligatory thank you to that friend, who I will refer to as "C" from now on. Thank you, C... for always believing in me. For always listening to me ramble on about birds and sightings, even when working, even when it seems everyone needs to talk to you, and your phone is going off non-stop. Thank you for the inspiration, the time you take to help me through my trips. Just, thank you for being my best friend and being you.
Until next time, everyone. Happy birding to all of you.