Happy New Year!
So the world didn't end in 2012. Disappointed...again. Ended the year with 402 species. It's been a long time since I had a year list that topped 400. Didn't really spend much time birding, but a couple of trips to California and a few stops in Arizona helped raise the total.
It was an odd year. Didn't get Great Horned Owl until December 30th. Missed some "easy" birds like American Bittern, Kentucky Warbler, and Lark Sparrow. Got some "hard" birds, like Yellow Rail, Swainson's Warbler, and Smith's Longspur. No pelagics, unless you count Pigeon Guillemots seen from shore. The only screech-owl on my year list is Whiskered. Heard but unseen birds included Elegant Trogon, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, and Canyon Wren (the latter heard in three states!).
In June, on our way to California, we stopped in Mesa to visit friends of Michelle. Water Ranch in Gilbert wasn't far from where we were staying, so I went there one morning to look for desert riparian birds. Near the parking lot I saw a few Peach-faced Lovebirds. Didn't take much notice of them, since they fell into the category of uncountable exotics. Figured they must be recent escapees. A few months later I got a surprise when I received the November issue of Birding, and learned that Peach-faced Lovebird had been renamed Rosy-faced Lovebird, and had just been added to the ABA checklist. The basis for its addition to the checklist was an increasing Arizona population centered in Phoenix and Mesa - a population that until then I didn't even know existed. And on the cover of the magazine was a photo of a pair of Rosy-faced Lovebirds - a photo taken at Water Ranch in Gilbert, of all places.
Rained all last night, right through the fireworks, and hasn't stopped yet. Front lawn is flooded. First bird of 2013 was a Carolina Chickadee that Lucy and I saw at our feeders this morning. Then there was a Carolina Wren in our front yard. Our wintering Rufous Hummingbird made #3. And so it begins...