Friday 31 December 2021

Ontario Big Year in 2022

No, this isn't me making ground breaking announcement about my attempt at one of the most grueling ventures in birding, but rather me highlighting two individuals who are about to undertake this exciting task. Starting tomorrow, two of my good friends Ezra Campanelli and Kiah Jasper will begin their Ontario Big Years, and attempting to achieve a new record. These two will be joining forces for an attempt that has been in the work for some time now...and it is finally time to act. Using never before seen tactics, these two are sure to excel. 

Ezra Campanelli

Kiah Jasper

Although in my younger days (yes, even younger than I am now), all I could dream of was doing a big year, I no longer have that desire. Plants have really changed me it seems, That being said, I still love the strategy and excitement behind it all, so I for one am really looking forward to following along with these two. I'm sure I'll get roped into some adventures along the won't take much convincing. 

Ezra and Kiah will sure have a great start to their year, if all goes to plan, as there are a number of lingering rarities that appear as though they will make it to the new year. Some of their top priorities which will keep them occupied for the first few days, at least, include a long staying Black-bellied Whistling Duck and Razorbill(s) in Niagara, Harris's Sparrow in Hamilton, Golden-crowned Sparrow in Toronto, Mountain Bluebird in Wellington, and the possibility of a Prairie Falcon in Durham (and literally as I was writing this, news of possibly even an Arctic Loon in Algoma). Of course, they would certainly take that Glaucous-winged Gull in Barrie if it were to ever pop back up! Townsend's Solitaire and Varied Thrush are two species that are also of high interest, and there a couple options to choose from for both.  

Once they get a number of these rarities, their attention will turn to some of the harder winter species in the province, such as Gray Partridge, Purple Sandpiper, finches, sea ducks, and northern owls. 

Northern Hawk Owl (Cochrane District, March 2020)

The current big year record for Ontario is 347, set by Jeremy Bensette in 2017, so it will not be an easy feat, but it sure will be a rewarding one. 2021 was a super year for rare birds, with Geoff Carpentier seeing 343 species (and not starting his serious big year attempt until May!), so here's hoping that 2022 is even better. 

If you wish to follow along with their big year progress, check out Kiah's blog and Ezra's website. If you are social media savvy, check out Ezra's big year Instagram account @bigyearbirdxbird where he will be posting photos of each year bird he sees. 

Best of luck to you both, and Happy New Year to all!!!