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Thank You For A Wonderful 2023! (Big Year by the numbers)

1:30 pm

[WARNING: Very long-winded and lots of numbers]
We had quite a year in San Diego. Not due to the accomplishments of three or four individuals. Nor due to the number of birds that showed up in the county. Instead, due to the amazing community of birders in the county, putting in countless hours, organizing outings, leading tours, and scouring all corners of the county. Due especially to those dedicated to helping everyone to see every bird, and supporting birders by volunteering time, arranging carpools, chartering boats, and organizing access to restricted areas.
I am truly grateful for the generous birding community in San Diego. There is none like it anywhere. As a birder for 42 years, I have lived in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties, Minnesota, and spent a lot of time in Oregon and the D.C. area. There is no way to convey how uniquely awesome the birding community is in San Diego. As evidenced by the record numbers of participants in the Christmas Bird Counts, and record-setting or near-record-setting results throughout the county, this is truly the strongest, most vibrant and active birding community in California (and possibly the U.S. and the World!).
Many thanks to all of you that I had the pleasure of birding with this past year. And special thanks and congratulations to my fellow big year birding buddies (a.k.a. the bird nerd herd). It was truly a team effort.
I can’t list ALL of the people that generously contributed to making this record-setting year possible. Off the top of my head, the first 50 that come to mind (I had to stop somewhere) who I had the pleasure of birding with numerous times and who made 2023 such a wonderful year:
Paul L, Geoff, Sally, Patti, Nick, Kris, Jim, Nancy, Mel, Dan K, Dan J, Dan H, Jimmy, Matt, Paul M, Paul C, Dave P, Stan, Gary, Jane, Peter, Millie, Steve B, Tito, Nicole, Barbara W, Barbara S, Mark, Steve L, Chris S, Andrew, Nathan, Dean, Lisa, Terry, Davis, Steve P, Sean B, John, Haim, Max, Bridget, Paula, David, Ian, Jay, Justyn, Bruce, Sue, Joe, Beth Ann, Mike  ( … and many more)


Now for some numbers …
A few folks have asked for some stats, so here’s what I came up with for my 2023 San Diego County Big Year:
Total San Diego 2023 species: 415    (of 433 species reported)
Total “clean” species (no provisionals): 409      (tied with Sally Veach)
Provisionals (6): Swinhoe’s White-eye, Pin-tailed Whydah, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Burrowing Parakeet, Monk Parakeet, Yellow-headed Parrot

Those numbers do not include the “exotic/escapes” (e.g. Flamingo, Magpie-jay, etc.) or hybrids.

I saw 12 species that were new for me for San Diego and one World lifer:
Buller’s Shearwater
Manx Shearwater
Mexican Whip-poor-will
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Crested Caracara
Wedge-rumped Storm-petrel  (LIFER!)
Virginia’s Warbler
Clark’s Nutcracker
American Tree Sparrow
Ancient Murrelet
Yellow-headed Parrot
Some of the known misses that were spotted in the county were:
Tufted Puffin
Chestnut-collared Longspur 
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-footed Booby
Marbled Murrelet
Pine Warbler
Short-tailed Shearwater
Laysan Albatross
Thick-billed Longspur (restricted)
Winter Wren (restricted)
Red-billed Tropicbird (deceased)

I submitted exactly 800 eBird checklists in 2023:

762 San Diego  (391 complete checklists)
 11 Hawaii
 10 Santa Barbara
  7 Los Angeles
  5 Sonoma
  4 San Luis Obispo
  1 Tijuana (Mexico)
Side Note: My total California 2023 species: 423     (10th overall for 2023)
Side Note Note: And 7 of the top 14 California eBird year listers were from San Diego!
16 Pelagic trips (includes large organized, plus small private boats, plus whale watching boats)
I didn’t keep track of total miles, but my one year old Tesla Model Y has 26K on it and the Model 3 added 12K miles although some of that was non-birding. If I had to guess conservatively, I’d say just under 30K miles driven. And that does not include all the carpool miles in Geoff’s Nissan Leaf and the many pelagic boat miles and walking miles.
My year started out with about 3+ hours a day of birding. I’d start between 5:30 and 6:30 each morning and end around 9:00 or 10:00. Sometimes I’d go out again in the afternoon. As the year progressed, my time in the field increased as I was birding farther and longer to get single year birds. By the end of the year, I was routinely leaving the house by 6:00 and not returning until 2:00 or 3:00 (sometimes later). So, that’s over 1600 hours of birding. I averaged about 5 birding spots per day, so coincidentally that is about 1600 spot visits in the year (and I created checklists for about half of those visits).
For the year, I kept 6700 photos and 75 audio recordings, of which I posted 1701 photos and 19 audio recordings covering 331 species.
New year birds by month:
Jan: 222
Feb: 47
Mar: 34
Apr: 28
May: 19
Jun: 12
Jul: 5
Aug: 10
Sep: 13
Oct: 9
Nov: 10
Dec: 6
Of the 762 checklists, these are the spots I created checklists for 7 or more times (note: many of these hotspots I visited more often but didn’t always take the time to create an eBird checklist):
21 Residential Carmel Valley (my yard)
17 San Elijo Lagoon
14 Pt La Jolla seawatch
13 Bird & Butterfly Garden
13 San Dieguito Sports Fields
11 Carmel Valley Comm Park
11 Fiesta Island dog run
11 Lake Murray 
11 San Dieguito horse pastures
11 Borrego
10 Robb Field
9 South of sod farms
9 J Street
9 Buddy Todd
9 Lagunas
9 Cuyamacas
8 Dairy Mart Ponds
8 Solana Highlands
8 Crown Point East
8 Flintkote
7 Penasquitos Lagoon
7 Del Mar Public Works
7 Otay Lake
7 Batiquitos Lagoon
7 Mission Trails
7 Mount Soledad
7 Safari Park
7 San Dieguito Park
7 Dust Devil
7 San Dieguito Lagoon
7 Sweetwater Reservoir
7 Pond 23 TRV (Stint Island)

If anyone is interested in the complete list of the 415 birds seen or have any other questions or want specific stats, I’d be happy to provide them separately. 

Thank you for a very fun, exciting year of birding in San Diego! I look forward to seeing you all out there. Good birding!
David Trissel
San Diego, CA