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Two Big Years toppled


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

ColletonPrior 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.  


VandermuelenIn 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!

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. A long-time member of the bird blogosphere, Nate has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. He is also the author of Birding for the Curious. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who are not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders.
Nate Swick

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  • Frank Izaguirre

    Great achievements! Congratulations to both.

  • Congrats to both gents. Great to see the ABA highlighting the achievements of foreign birders in the ABA area and Canadian birders too…and a young(er) birder at that!

  • Obviously you are all right.It was found by Mike Runtz in the early afternoon and word got out to the birding community.

  • Congrats to Anthony and Josh! A big undertaking with considerable sacrifice, but a real achievement.

  • anon

    The Washington State Big Year record also fell this year — I believe more than one person beat the old record, with the leading couple Sherry & Arlen Hagen presenting sitting somewhere in the 360s for the year [and still hoping for a last kittiwake or something]. Best of all, they were doing it as a fundraiser for their local audubon chapter –

    It was a great year for chaseable surprises in WA –

  • Thanks for the correction.  It occurs to me now that Ohio may have fallen this year too.

  • Derek

    Maryland’s old record of 338 has been broken as well, with one of the old record holders (Jim Stasz) having seen 344 according to eBird and with two others, Michael Burchett and Betsy Bangert, also breaking 340.

  • anonymous

    South Dakota’s old record of 332 was also broken by several people this year. Two Pierre birders are currently sitting at 352. Sounds like its been a good year to chase birds all over the country.

  • Ted Floyd

    Tony White informed me last night that another Big Year record has fallen, this one dramatically so. Tony’s old Big Year record for The Bahamas was 198; thus far in 2012, Woody Bracey has seen 243 species in The Bahamas. Woody has broken the old record by 23%!

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