Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Run Down

Bird species seen: 236
Miles by bike: 2054
Miles by bike per bird: 8.7

The average miles-per-gallon in my car= 23
2054/23= 89.3 gallons of gasoline conserved by not driving that distance in my car.
This is an equivalent of 0.78 metric tons of carbon dioxide not emitted. 
This is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions of 1.8 barrels of oil, 
or to the carbon sequestered by 20 tree seedlings grown for 10 years,
or to the carbon sequestered annually by 0.18 acres of pine and fir forest, 
or to the carbon sequestered annually by 0.01 acres of US forest preserved from deforestation,
or to the carbon dioxide emissions from 32.7 propane cylinders used for home barbeques,
or to the greenhouse gas emissions avoided by recycling 0.27 tons of waste instead of sending it to the landfill. 

How significant was my reduction of cabon dioxide? Those 2054 miles include many that were peddled while not directly searching for birds. But I'm always birding, no matter where I go. Even if I'm riding to a friends house I may still pass a grove of cottonwoods that may harbor an Eastern Screech-Owl. One never knows when something will just appear, so every mile I rode my bike gave me that much more of a chance to spot something. My Big Green Big Year gave me the excuse to get on my bike to go places, be it commuting to my office or to go downtown. And that's where the real effect gets magnified if other people begin to use alternate transportation for every-day travel. If a thousand more people can ride their bikes two thousand miles a year, we'd be doing the carbon sequestering work of 10 acres of forests. With the combined efforts of conscious humans altering their habits as to reduce their emissions, and the carbon sequestering abilities of preserved and re-planted forests, there can be a significant effect on global carbon dioxide levels. 

Between early October and December 31st I found 7 more species:

Gray Jay-October 26, 2008: I took an RTD bus up to Nederland and rode out to Kelly Dahl Campground where I easily found the local group of jays. This was the only bird species I found utilizing RTD services. These birds were just within Boulder County. The only bird for my list that I saw outside Boulder Co. was Wild Turkey, but I saw them in the county later on. 

Bonaparte's Gull-November 11, 2008: Saw two birds at Sixmile Reservoir.

Barrow's Goldeneye-November 11, 2008: Saw a beautiful drake at Baseline Reservoir.

Ring-necked Pheasant-November 18, 2008: While contemplating a recent report of pheasants along my bike route to work on Cherryvale Road , I looked to my right to where a male pheasant was standing. 

Long-tailed Duck-November 22, 2008: A cooperative young male at Baseline Reservoir.

Surf Scoter-November 22, 2008: Two females at Baseline. 

Tundra Swan-November 28, 2008: Two adults and an immature at the Boulder Valley Farm pond off 95th. 

The number that I ended up with in my notebook did not match up with the checklist I filled out at the end. I checked the list many times and feel confident that I must have just messed up in my notebook. 

There were a few birds that I consider misses. These include birds that I knew were present and in a reasonable biking distance. Some of these I chased but couldn't locate on my bike. Examples are:

Sage Thrasher-saw two while doing grassland bird surveys on Gunbarrel Hill in July and went looking later but didn't find them. I was surprised that I did not run in to more in Boulder Co. this year, on my bike or off. 

Eastern Screech-Owl- I tried for this countless times but to no avail. 

Loggerhead Shrike- I found a bird in August near Legion Park. I had a guest in town and didn't chase it. Two months later I'm back at the same spot while working and it was sitting on the same fence. I went back that afternoon on my bike and missed it by five minutes. Sheesh. 

Golden-crowned Kinglet- Several hikes in the Eldorado Mountain Open Space, where I ran into this species frequently in the winter of 2007/2008 while working, failed to produce this high-elevation Kinglet. 

Northern Saw-whet Owl- Heard one tooting in January in the Eldorado Mountain Open Space, but couldn't re-locate it when I biked and hiked out there. 

Louisiana Waterthrush- A mega rarity that showed up in biking distance but didn't stick around that extra day that I needed to get out to it. 

Winter Wren- A bird showed up along Boulder Creek in late December, but I didn't have the time to get to it with holiday travels and short day-light. 

Black-bellied Plover- Showed up and was chase-able, but I was away from computers and cell phones, so missed my chance to get out to it. 

Dunlin- Same as Black-bellied Plover. 

Northern Goshawk- Saw several while working, but was not so fortunate during my BGBY forest ramblings. 

White-rumped Sandpiper- Seen by car at Cottonwood Marsh. Not there when I went to look on my bike with only binoculars. Seen very shortly after I departed.

Field Sparrow- I spotted this guy during a spring bird walk at the South Mesa Trail parking lot. I had overslept and chose to drive to the event instead of my original plan to bike. It was never to be seen again. 

Mew Gull- There were two individuals that I might have had a chance for, one at Baseline Reservoir and another at Boulder Reservoir that I spotted while birding by car. 

Slaty-backed Gull (?)- Well, this will probably just always haunt me:
Thanks for all the kind support from everyone. I would have never seen many of the birds if I hadn't been helped by Colorado birding community. And a very special thanks to Mark and Sue Ponsor who graciously gave me their extra tripod, eliminating my need for handy fence posts. 

Great birding!!