2016 Birding Goals & Where This Blog is Headed

Tundra Swans at Jefferson Park - Menasha, WI 1-10-2016
Tundra Swans at Jefferson Park – Menasha, WI 1-10-2016

I bet you didn’t expect me back with another post this quick and based on my recent negligence in posting I completely understand. But, we’re already 13 days into the new year so I need to get these out and start working towards them. So, let’s start with my 2016 goals and then we’ll move on to where exactly this blog is headed. And as always, I’ll scattered some photos about to help feed your birding addiction.

2016 Goals:

  • 250 year birds for the state of Wisconsin!
    Yes, this is my same goal from last year, but since I failed to reach it in 2015, I’ll keep it for the new year. Further down in this post under “Where this blog is headed in 2016” I’ll explain why I believe I’ll achieve it.
  • 4 county big year with Michael – 235 species!
    Although I didn’t have this as a goal last year, Michael and I did a 4 county big year in Wisconsin.  We combined our species list for the four counties surrounding us (Outagamie, Calumet, Waupaca, and Winnebago). It was the first time we did this and we set a high goal of 250 species!  Although we came up short at 222 species in 2015, I still think we had an impressive year. Well, truth be told Michael carried us last year and picked up a number of species I couldn’t get out to. This year I think we have a legit shot at our goal.
  • Lead Calumet County in species seen as reported by eBird!
    Last year fellow NWBC member Dar crushed the Calumet County big year by coming up with 178 species (actually over 180, but he didn’t get all his checklists in yet – 180+ is even more impressive)! For reference, my high in 2013 was 144 species. Hopefully I can get out in Calumet County more this year – last year I failed to make a single trip to Killsnake which is a great birding spot in the county. Hopefully this goal will help get me back to some county areas I failed to bird last year.
  • January 100 species mini-goal!
    Stuart and I were talking recently and he mentioned something about a 100 species January and I thought that was an interesting goal. This one is going to be really, really tough – especially because I don’t chase to many birds more than an hour or 90 minutes away. However, it sounded like a fun way to get off to a fast start and a goal I could see trying for each year.
  • Improve my bird songs/calls recognition!
    This year I’m focusing on making a big leap in my song and call recognition. For non-birders, learning songs might be even more important than learning field marks. Obviously if a bird is calling but hidden, you can still “recognize” the species by the call. Plus, you can hear calls from a distance and if you can recognize the call, you know what habitat to search and where within that habitat (down low in the scrub, mid-level, top of the tree). I was originally planning on an hour a day working on bird songs, but that might be a bit tough…especially once migration starts. So I’ll divide that in half and shoot for 183 hours of study this year. I’m hoping to track and do a monthly recap throughout the year. I’ll explain more about what tools I use in my January recap.
  • North Dakota birding trip!
    One of the NWBC club members, Neil, has been birding North Dakota for a number of years. He’s offered to take a small group of us out to bird at the end of May and I will be joining him! It’s an exciting opportunity to pickup some life birders and tour the state with someone who knows the area well. Trip reports will follow.
  • Complete the Costa Rica Trip Reports!
    Yes, I realize I’ve been slacking on my trip reports, but fear not – I still have the resolve to complete them. My plan is to have all trip reports completed by May 1st at the latest. That way when I get back from North Dakota I can focus on my 2016 trip.
  • Finish planting flowers for my hummingbird/butterfly garden!
    I have about half my garden to go and I want to finish it off this year! Columbine, Cardinal Flower, Bee Balm, etc… still to be added.
Winter Wren - one of two I found at Heckrodt Wetland Reserve in Menasha, WI 1-10-2016
Winter Wren – one of two I found at Heckrodt Wetland Reserve in Menasha, WI 1-10-2016

Where this blog is headed in 2016:

A few posts back I noted that I had made some personal changes that I would elaborate on at a future date. So, here we go…. At the end of November I accepted a new position with my company. Before I took a job with this company in August 2014, I had a lot of flexibility as a technical writer with my former employer; as long as I got my 40 hours a week in, they would allow me to come in late (could bird the mornings) or leave in the middle of the day to do a bit of chasing. When I left that company I went to a straight 7am-3:30pm shift which didn’t have the flexibility to leave in the middle of the day or come in late (hence, one of the reasons my 2015 WI year total is quite low).

Well, all that has been remedied! My new position hours are 3pm-11pm. This allows me to get out early in the AM during spring migration and will allow me to make runs I couldn’t under my old schedule, such as a run to the Lake Michigan shoreline. But working 3-11pm isn’t the only benefit! Now, I will be birding from work as I’m officially working from home fulltime – WOOHOOO!! This is a dream job for me. My desk is setup overlooking my backyard so even when I’m working I can still bird. Some other benefits of this new position – it’s a straight 8 hours (no half hour break included) so I gain 2.5 hours per week right there. Add my average commute time of 2.5 hours per week and I’m now saving 5 hours per week!! And if that isn’t reason enough, how about birding the parks and nature preserves during weekdays when everyone else is at work – to me, this is a huge advantage! No teenagers to deal with who just got out of class and are running around screaming in the parks or having to deal with the massive influx of people with wagonloads of props getting family photos taken. Ahhh yes, life is good!!!

My new office!
My new office!

So what does all this mean for the blog in 2016? Well, I’m hoping to post more, but with less text. I subscribe to a lot of bird blogs from around the world and the thing I most like is seeing photos of all the birds I don’t get to see; it’s an interesting way to learn about what birds are out there that I’ve never heard of. So although I’m going to have more time for birding, I’m also going to be focusing on other things like enhancing my bird songs recognition and posting more on the NWBC Facebook page. I still plan to do “write-ups” with many of my posts, but I’m hoping to keep them more terse (“hoping” being the operative word here as I can ramble with the best of them). I’m also planning on doing some galleries which will be images only. This will hopefully keep me more active in the blogging sphere and allow you to see more of what matters – birds!!

Ring-necked Pheasant - Calumet County 1-11-2016
Ring-necked Pheasant – Calumet County 1-11-2016

So there you have it – my goals for 2016 and where the Bird It Up! community is headed for the next 12 months. Now get off the computer, get out there, and Bird It Up!

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8 thoughts on “2016 Birding Goals & Where This Blog is Headed”

  1. Woo hoo is right! What a great gig. I’m also checkin’ how awesome it is that I ‘work’ in a room with a bee line view to the birdies out back. If I only got PAID for it.

    Gonna be a great year for you, Matthew! You just keep collecting those Wisconsin morning beauties and I will be the bird voyeur from down south, taking it all in. When we DO make it to Costa Rica, it will be because of you, you know. Happy New Year! And happy birding in 2016. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Luckily, I’ve got a few spots up here where it’s almost guaranteed! Although this was my earliest sighting – most my other sightings are from April except for a late December one in 2012.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Shannon!!! I especially like the “when we DO” get to Costa Rica! I can’t wait for you to go and see all the birds and wildlife there!!!

      Happy birding in 2016!! Look forward to following your families adventures throughout the New Year!!

      Liked by 1 person

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