All in all the birding has been excellent. I wish I'd got to grips with the songs and calls sooner than I did, a good ear is essential here, but in general I'm happy with what I've seen. The only birds that I feel that I've missed are mainly pretty scarce or tricky to see. Some are irruptive winter visitors, mainly to The Adirondacks, such as Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill and Pine Grosbeak. My first winter trip to the north was this year (an unsuccessful twitch for a Ross's Gull), and I should have done more. I also dipped several times on Thick-billed Murre (Brunnich's Guillemot). One more winter would probably have been sufficient. Of the three phalaropes that occur I saw the rarest (Red/ Grey), bit not Wilson's or Red-necked. I dipped several times on Wilson's which is annual at Jamaica Bay on the East Pond. The Red-necked is most readily seen on the spring pelagics out of Brooklyn, but they are very inconveniently timed in the middle of exams so I was never able to get on one. Had I done so I might have had a chance at another big miss, Long-tailed Jaeger (Skua), and even South Polar Skua. I love rallids, and I was especially disappointed with my failure to see a Virginia Rail. Inexcusable really, I just didn't get into the right place regularly enough, too distracted by warblers I suppose.
I did quite well for warblers to be fair, recording 36 species in NY state (and one other in Texas). I missed none of the regulars at all, and only 3 other species were recorded in NY in the time I was here; Hermit, Virginia and Black-throated Grey, each of them being one day birds at best.
Sparrows are a big feature of the avifauna here, and most are pretty easy to get onto. Nelson's took a while and a few false starts, as did Clay-coloured. LeConte's was the only semi-regularly occurring species I didn't connect with, but they are less than annual and rarely twitchable.
North American forests are well -populated with another of my favourite groups, woodpeckers. I basically cleaned-up on the eastern half of the country with the exception of American Three-toed Woodpecker which is now very scarce in the northeast (last sighting in The Adirondacks was 2012).
If we had stayed I would have started to do a few more trips. Our family road trip to Florida last year, and this year's Texas excursion were great fun and I had my eye on a few birding holidays:
- Great Plains grouse round-up: It's possible to design a one-week road-trip through Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas that will produce Greater and Lesser Prairie Chicken, Greater and Gunnison Sage-Grouse and Sharp-tailed Grouse. The trip would have to be timed to coincide with the lekking behaviour these birds are known for, which means early April. Very inconvenient for my school timetable! A great trip, but a lot of driving.
- South-east Arizona: The northern limit of a lot of Mexican birds, loads of birds!
- Alaska: All those Auks!
- Pelagics: Seattle and San Diego to mop up all the north Pacific seabirds, Mmmmmmm!
It's been a great 3 years!