Monthly Update: January 2017
Welcome to my first Monthly Updates post!
I’m excited to share what I have been up too over the past month. From getting out in the cold winter to look for birds to working every day on Bird Watching HQ, I feel that birds have occupied a huge amount of my time. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The purpose of my Monthly Updates is to check in and report how my month went. Like most birders, I have a family and job and am continually trying to figure out how to balance these responsibilities along with bird watching! Each month, I will share the following:
- How many different species I saw and how many new birds were added to my life list!
- The good, the bad and the ugly from the past month.
- How things are going for this site as it grows.
And just like that, the first month of 2017 is in the books!
January was a solid start to the year, except for the last two weeks I have been under the weather. I went and got a flu shot in the middle of January and then of course got sick a week later. My wife is convinced that getting the flu shot every year is what gets me sick!
To coordinate with the start of Bird Watching HQ, I made the decision to start my life list over again at the beginning of 2017. I have never been great about keeping a life list anyways. I think it will be fun to report every month on how many birds were added to my life list, where I went birding, and new skills that I learned.
For record keeping purposes, I am using eBird for my lists. I think their website and app are easy to use and my lists and data are very easy to search. The first thing that is shown after I log in is the number of species on my life list, which is motivating to keep that number growing!
Checklists and Birds in January:
- Total # of Species: 23
- Checklists Submitted: 25
I always admire the birds that winter in Ohio. While many of their friends take off to warmer and tropical climates to live in paradise, they decide to stay where they are from and stick out the cold, wet and cloudy weather. I guess they have a lot in common with us Ohioans who decide to stay here year after year!
I saw a total of 23 different species in January, which I am excited about. I wasn’t strategic at all about finding new birds, I just went hiking and birding at local parks around my house. It doesn’t seem like it to most people, but there is a lot of life and activity going on in winter, we just need to get up off our lazy ass and get outside!
Since I just started my life list at the beginning of 2017, I now have a total of 23 birds on my official eBird life list. Yes!!!
My goal for the year is to get to 200 life list birds, so I am well on my way. Unfortunately, I have a feeling the next few months will be a bit slower adding new birds until the spring migrants return.
I was very happy to submit 25 checklists to eBird! This is probably more than I had submitted to them in my entire life before January. What got me motivated was the eBird 2017 Checklist-a-day Challenge. eBird is giving away prizes to anyone who submits a checklist every single day in 2017.
Unfortunately, after getting sick at the end of January and not leaving the couch I have already failed in submitting a checklist every day, but regardless I was able to submit 25 and am happy with getting in the habit of recording my observed birds, even if it’s just seeing one fly by my window at work.
Favorite Birding Trip of the Month:
On Saturday, January 22nd I headed to a trail near our home to do some birding. Normally Ohio winters are cold and bitter and LONG, but luckily it has been mild so far this year. This day was no exception and it was actually incredibly warm, almost 60 degrees.
The reason it was my favorite trip of the month was not because of the location or the birds seen (only 8 different species).
It had to do with the company. My wife and 2 year old daughter came along which made it incredibly fun. The trails at this park are great for young kids, they are well maintained and dry!
I can’t get my daughter’s little voice out of my head as we were crossing over a small bridge. There was one lone male mallard sitting in the middle of a pond. We stopped at the bridge to look at him and he immediately started swimming towards us, probably thinking we had food.
My daughter immediately got really excited and started quacking as loud as she could! The best part was once the mallard got close, she said “So beautiful!” in her cute little voice and kept repeating that over and over and over until the mallard finally swam away.
She loved that mallard so much that we had to go back to the bridge to look for him once more before we left.
To be honest, the mallard was beautiful in his dark green plumage, but I normally take them for granted since they are everywhere. I love that everything is brand new and exciting for my daughter. It helps me slow down and realize how amazing the little things in life are.
Favorite Bird of the Month:
I saw a small hermitage of bluebirds at the beginning of a trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Also, who the heck knew that a group of bluebirds was called a hermitage???
There was a little bit of snow on the ground. There is just something about how their blue plumage stands out against a white back drop that I find absolutely stunning. As soon as I saw them, it stopped me in my tracks until they decided to move on and fly away.
I know that they are year round residents in Ohio, but my brain has a hard time accepting that fact. They seem like they are too pretty to stay around here in the winter and should migrate somewhere warm. Maybe that’s why I am always a bit shocked when I see them in the winter?
Bird Watching HQ Updates:
Over the past month, I have been very busy working on this site and working on content. One thing I have learned is that starting a website is a lot of work!
First, writing a well researched or thought out post is incredibly time consuming. I’m averaging around 6-8 hours per post so far. Luckily I really enjoy the time spent working on the content. Once I get rolling and focused in the morning, the time passes quickly and it’s not uncommon to look at the time and realize an hour or two has disappeared.
Second, the actual managing of a website takes time. I don’t know much about web development, by day I am an insurance agent for a large insurance company. There has definitely been a learning curve figuring out WordPress (the website creation tool I use), HTML coding, plugin’s, widgets and a million other things!
After a few months of work though, I feel the site looks pretty good. There are some major improvements I want to make later as we keep growing but that is work for another day.
Every month, I give an update on how I am doing on my 2017 Goals for Bird Watching HQ.
2017 Goal = 1,000 Email Subscribers:
- Currently at 3 subscribers
Well, the good news is that there are 3 more subscribers than last month! The bad news is that after one month I still have 997 more to go. To help add more email address, I added some easy sign up bars at the top of every page. I also created a free gift for joining my email list. I wrote a small eBook that details and describes my 3 favorites birding apps on my iPhone.
- Currently at 5
Just like the email subscribers, I need to get to work on the Facebook page! To be honest, other than asking on the site here, I’m not sure how to get more people to “like” our Facebook page. Suggestions in comments are very welcome!
I promise not to spam your email, there is nothing I hate more than that. My plan is to send 1-2 emails per month just giving an update of new posts that have been added along with any other relevant birding news.
2017 Goal = 24 posts though the year.
- Currently at 4 (including this one)
So far I am on pace to crush this goal!! I would really like to keep up the pace of 3-4 posts per month.
There is no shortage of things to write about. It just all comes down to time and priorities. As I mentioned earlier, I severely underestimated the amount of time and effort it takes to write and edit a post! It is a huge commitment and I give bloggers and writers a lot more credit than before. It’s a lot more work than just sitting down at your computer in front a blank screen and magically creating an amazing article.
February in Ohio usually proves to be the coldest month of the year.
Time to put on the warm clothes and do some winter birding!
I hope to keep getting out 1-2 times per week to keep looking and searching for birds. I haven’t seen any owls yet this year and would like to get one added to the list.
What does birding in February look like to you? Anyone going on any tropical trips to search for birds?
Thanks for reading. Happy birding!