As I write this, I'm looking back on the past 9 months or so this year. I've seen 264 species of birds in Ontario this year, not a huge amount considering I've spent almost the whole year in the province, but not a small amount either. Last year at this point I was up to 281 species, and the year before I was at 267. I finished those previous years with 304 and 286 species, respectively.
So what is this reason for the discrepancy this year? Have my mad skillz decreased? Maybe. Or perhaps we have just had less rare birds show up this year? That could be possible too. I think though that it had to do with the way my birding habits have changed over the past year.
2009 was a big year for me because I had my own car and the freedom to travel around the province at will looking for birds. At this point I hadn't been birding for very long, so there were a lot of new species that I wanted to see. I think I picked up over 80 new Ontario birds then.
In 2010, after having a really good start to the year, I decided to push and see if I could see 300 species in Ontario as kind of a personal goal. In the end I drove WAY too many kms but completed my goal (Harris's Sparrow was number 300), with many awesome birds along the way. I picked up 34 new species, including most of the remaining "gimmees" such as Evening Grosbeak, Whimbrel, and Buff-breasted Sandpiper.
This year, I don't really have any internal drive to see as many species as I can in Ontario. I am really taking satisfaction in working some of my favorite "local patches", such as Guelph and the Point Pelee area. As well, there haven't really been that many birds this year that I would consider chasing after. For instance, I could have traveled out east a few hours to bag White-faced and Glossy Ibis for the year, but I've now seen them both in Ontario and I value gas money more! Obviously the more one birds in a certain area, the less amount of "good" birds seem to be showing up since less and less are novel.
So anyways, here I am with 3 months left in the year. I should pick up a bunch of easy birds like finches, some geese, Red-necked Grebe, and Cave Swallow (hard to believe that this is now usually an easy bird!), but I'm not expecting to see over 280 this year. I've already missed a couple easy ones, like Upland Sandpiper, Least Bittern, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Whip-poor-will!
Hoping this fall will be a good one! If the weather gods are on our side we should get a few nice weather systems from the southwest. 2 years ago an early November system brought with it Phainopepla, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Western Kingbird(s), Cave Swallows, etc. Maybe my Barn Owl was associated with it too?