Another big four months — but this is all!

In the last chapter of my book A Big Manhattan Year I state that I have no intention of doing another big year. Nevertheless, I have spent nearly all of 2013 near or at the top of the Manhattan eBird leaderboard. I do not expect to stay there.

I have put in only 75% of the effort that I did last year, but I have been fortunate to get 95% of the results (meaning that with full effort I would expect to have five to seven more birds). A very strong winter, with rarities from Randall’s Island and the Central Park Reservoir, has partially made up for a dismal spring migration. I will close April 2013 with 129 species; at the same time in 2012 I had 131. The biggest difference was that by then I had a great many rare warblers: Prothonotary, Yellow-throated, Orange-crowned, Kentucky, and Tennessee, along with both of the Central Park sandpipers and Orchard Oriole — none of which I have this year. The birds just have not shown up (except for Yellow-throated Warbler and Orchard Oriole at Inwood Hill Park).

I will continue birding — the peak of spring migration should occur over the next two weeks — but I will do it to enjoy one of nature’s grand spectacles and not as a competitive activity. I will dial down the effort level even more, as I have some other projects that deserve greater focus, including marketing my book to a wider audience.

Those of you who are going at it competitively this year know that the next few weeks are make-or-break. I closed May last year with 164 birds, and I expect the leader this year to finish May close to this number, as the warblers will eventually come — they are just late. This is no time to sleep in. Be ready to bird five hours per day or more and chase alerts as they occur. Go!