What are your birding resolutions for 2018? Since it is the time of year when people set resolutions, I was thinking about what some of my birding goals and resolutions might be for the next year. I'm happiest when I'm outdoors and getting a great shot of a bird. I had some great trips this year but didn't feel like I birded nearly enough and time outside is way better than time getting irritated with people on Facebook. Here are some ideas for resolutions that I'm kicking around. I'm not sure that I will do all of them, but certainly incorporating one of them will help insure that when I'm debating between one more load of laundry or spending that out hour outside will put me on the right track and out with my PhoneSkope set up.
Photography Big Year
Birders are known for their lists of new birds. Some are even known for doing a Big Year or trying to see as many birds in a designated area in the span of a calendar year. There's a book and movie about it called (surprise) The Big Year.
You could also try this but make it how many different species of birds can you photograph in a year's time. Some have done it via traditional photography means, but I don't think anyone has done with a smart phone. You could be establishing new ground! If you're just trying to see how many photographs of species you can get, remember that they pictures don't have to be perfect, just identifiable. Years ago I was part of a big day competition to see how many species of birds my team and I could photograph. We one and I took one of the blurriest photos of a prothonotary warbler. Yet, it was identifiable and counted!
Help eBird with Illustrated Checklists.
In 2017 eBird released their Illustrated Checklist feature which will show photos of each species that were taken in that region. I have a favorite patch that I visit and there are very few photos that are part of its checklist. My goal is to see if I can have a photo for every bird seen in my patch or at least have the most contributions for my for my patch. If you enter in your eBird sightings using your computer, you can add your photos as you go. If you're like me and use the eBird app on your phone to enter your sightings while in the field, you'll have to add the photos later while on your computer. But how cool to have a record of all the birds in your patch taken by you.
Here's a photo of a Virginia Rail that I need to add to my patch illustrated checklist in eBird.
Enter Photography Contests.
What are we doing with all of our photos, just sharing them on social media? That's all well and good but I think I'd like to try my hand at some contests. Smart phones have come a long way in regards to photo quality. A few years ago, an editor in the UK asked for submissions of digiscoped images for a special edition they were working specifically about the technique of using cameras with spotting scopes. They asked if I could submit 12 photos for them to chose from. I asked if they wanted images from an SLR or iPhone. They scoffed at the idea of the iPhone and said SLR only. They scoffed at the idea of iPhone images. So I submitted 12 images, six using an SLR and six using an iPhone with my scope. They chose four and three of those were taken with my iPhone and one eded up on the cover. If you take your time with images, you can get some quality shots.
There are several photography contests out there. Simply by typing in "photography contests" you will find many photography sites with links to favorite contest. There are some contests that are specific to digiscoping like Swarovski's Digiscoper of the Year and some that are specific to iPhones. But don't worry if it's smart phone specific, the quality in a smart phone can rival many traditional cameras on the market. You could also look into you submitting your images into your local or state fairs. Just give it try. See if your images do well. If they don't, try to see what you can do to up your coming. At the very least it will be a learning experience.
A white stork photo could be a new bird or it could also be perfect for a photo contest looking for urban wildlife shots.
Try Finding 12 Birds You've Never Seen.
OK I may have stolen this resolution from eBird and their suggestion to see ten new birds, but I think the game can be upped to a new bird for each month. Maybe there's a sparrow that shows up to a nearby wildlife refuge that you haven't looked for before. Perhaps there snowy owls are popping up in your state. Have you heard that harlequin ducks sometimes show up on a nearby lake during the fall migration? Follow up on these birding adventures--and get a souvenir photo of your new bird.
What are your birding resolutions for 2018?
We want to know what your birding resolutions and goals are for 2018! Let us know in the comments and be sure to share this post with a birder that needs help setting goals this year. Happy New Year!