Birding Without Borders

Day 121: Feeding the Addiction

After four months, the big year stays strong.

May 1, 2015, Guatemala City, Guatemala — I spent the morning birding with John and his parents, Rob and Tara, at their farm near Coban. The farm sits next to a huge tract of cloud forest, and it’s got great birds: John has seen about 210 species in the yard! This morning, in just over an hour, we found 70, including a couple of great new ones for me—Gray-collared Becard and Ocellated Quail.

John and I bid farewell and spent the day making our way back to Guatemala City, where I will fly out (to Mexico) early tomorrow morning. On the way, we made several stops along a productive dirt road and picked up a few additional birds in a dry pine-oak forest. Perhaps most unexpected was a Carolina Wren which we heard singing from a brushy ravine—a bird unknown from this region of Guatemala (though it occurs in the northern part of the country). It’s possible that this valley, which has not been covered much by birders, hosts a population of Carolina Wrens previously unknown.

It’s May, and this year is now one third over. People keep asking if I’m getting burned out, and the answer is definitely no: I’m afraid that, instead of losing interest in birds, the real danger of this big year is that, at the end, I just won’t be able to stop! John, who is still recovering from his massive big year within Guatemala in 2014 (he spent all but 20 days birding last year), is one of the only people I’ve met so far who understands this. “Yeah, it’ll mess you up,” he admits, adding, “My advice? Just go for it! Throw away all reason and go all out!”

New birds today: 10

Year list: 2359

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