I read in To See Every Bird on Earth, the biography of the late Big Lister Richard Koeppel, that the great listers are so in tune with the sport that they can predict, with fascinating precision, the trip or location where they will see a landmark bird. While my numbers pale in comparison to some of the great birders in the world, I may have finally developed this talent myself. When Melanie and I were still preparing to move to South Korea, I had the delightful thought that I could reasonably expect to break the 600 mark by the end of 2013 with some effort.
Here it is the end of November, and that prediction has come true.
I took a birding trip with Jason Loghry and Mike Friel to Suncheonman Bay, hoping to nab some overwintering buntings. We never really found the buntings (though a few individuals did make brief appearances) but we had an excellent time observing hundreds of newly arrived hooded cranes foraging in the rice fields of Anpung-dong. And hidden among the enormous flock, careful eyes spotted three white-naped cranes. And so, in just a few short months, my Life List catapulted from 500 to 600, with one more month of 2013 left to go. Here’s a complete list of all the species we saw throughout the day.
Now that Melanie and I have signed on for another year with our schools in South Korea, I look forward with nervous anticipation at all the birds I will (hopefully) see in 2014. I tempt fate by making another prediction: by the end of 2014, I should be close to or just beyond 750.
So now that the bar has been set, let the games begin!