The record-breaking 2016 North American Big Year race continues, with numbers way beyond what anyone would have predicted last January.
John Weigel, the Australian, has a species total of 765, with two provisional birds. The prevous record was 749. Olaf Danielson stands at 764 with one provisional. (Provisional means a species yet to be approved by the American Birding Association. Approval means the bird can be counted.) Laura Keene is at 733 plus two. The fourth contender is Christian Hagenlocher who is at 726 plus two.
All of this is as of Oct. 6, so totals will climb, depending on rarity sightings from now until the end of the year. The birders can be expected to chase whatever wherever.
Weigel spent many days in September on St. Paul island in the Pribilofs (Bering Sea). He added two birds, which must have been a disappointing total given his investment in time. However, when you have seen all that can be seen, you can pick a spot and sit and wait for the unknowns. Or, you can hop on a plane and chase them elsewhere.
In the midst of his stay on St. Paul island, Weigel flew to Texas to see a Variegated Flycatcher, then immediately flew back to the island.
Two of the birders already have broken the previous Big Year record (749). Two more might do it. Four surpassing that number is extraordinary.
Follow them on their blogs:
Weigel — Birding for Devils
Danielson — The Bad Weather Big Year
Hagenlocher — The Birding Project