2012 was a very big year indeed for a pair of birders in New York and Ontario. Both Anthony Collerton of New York, New York, and Josh Vandermeulen of Guelph, Ontario, have each set new records in their respective state and province, with a couple weeks still left to go. And better, both birders chronicled their journey on their own blogs, Anthony at A Welsh Birder Abroad and Josh at Ontario Birds & Herps.
Prior to 2012, the New York Big Year record was set at 352 just one year previous by Richard Fried (and before that the record was last set in 2008). Collerton's attempt has no doubt been helped by a slew of excellent vagrants in the state. New York hosted its first Grace's Warbler in January, as well as its first Virginia's Warbler just last month, not to mention a chasable Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch and a second straight year of hurricane waifs. With so much to pick up, Anthony blew past 352 in November with a Dovekie seen from shore in Suffolk County.
Collerton is currently sitting at a rather remarkable 360 having recently picked up a Tufted Duck on Long Island and may still have a couple birds left to nail down in the nearly two weeks to go before the fat lady finally sings.
In Ontario, the Big Year record was done in by 22 year old Josh Vandermeulen. Ontario's record was a bit longer standing, 338 set in 1996 by Glen Coady, but it too fell by the wayside relatively early in Josh's run with a Northern Fulmar seen from Netitishi Point on James Bay on October 29. Like Anthony, Josh was helped along by Hurricane Sandy, whose winds blew some excellent birds into the Hudson and James Bays.
Highlights for Ontario this year include the province's first Thick-billed Kingbird, as well as Band-tailed Pigeon, Smew, and Gray-crowned Rosy-finch, among others. Josh is currently sitting at a 344, a Pacific Loon seen just over a month ago. He ran a contest on his blog asking readers to predict his last bird of 2012. The consensus, Slaty-backed Gull, is still out there for him to find.
Congrats to Anthony and Josh, and good luck finishing the year with a bang!