Carolina Century Club
Ever since the baby put a cramp in my state listing style, I’ve been looking for new ways to feed the all-consuming twitching urge that crops up in birders from time to time. I’m not typically a green-eyed twitcher of the sort that gives birders a bad name (not that I even really think those people exist), but I won’t deny that the urge to find new birds occasionally drives me. We all have a competitive urges, even if we seek to suppress it most of the time, and letting it out in managed ways keeps us sane. It doesn’t prevent me from enjoying birding for birding’s sake, and in fact, makes me more aware of seasonal changes and opportunities for something novel. Besides, a new bird on any of the many lists I keep might prevent me from going postal when I lose that game of Scrabble to my wife (I kid, I kid… maybe).
So anyway, as I’ve become more enamored with entering my daily checklists into eBird, I’ve been watching with interest as my county lists grow. I hadn’t given these tiny administrative divisions much thought before, but as eBird does a great job keeping track of that stuff, I saw them as opportunities to get a listing fix by trying to build up a list within their borders. With a baby and a wife at home making longer trips difficult if not impossible, I could burnish my local birding credentials by striving for the longest list in Chapel Hill, all the while hitting up local hotspots regularly and thoroughly. This is hardly a unique idea, even if the possibility seemed new to me. But I’d like to take it farther.
Texas has a fun competition called the Texas Century Club. The goal there is to see 100 species in 100 of Texas’ 254 counties. While Texas is obviously a premier birding destination, most people only bird in fewer than 20 counties. The idea is to encourage people to get off the beaten path and explore the less well-known parts of the state. I suspect North Carolina, and any state actually, is in the same boat. The well-known birding spots are heavily covered, but they make up maybe 10 or so counties in the entire state. So in the interest of getting underbirded places their due, and to keep me busy for the foreseeable future, I propose the Carolina Century Club. North Carolina has 100 counties and South Carolina an additional 46, to be able to get 100 species in 100 total combined counties would be a worthy goal indeed.
Currently I’m at five. My home county, Orange, and the three others in the triangle, Chatham, Durham, and Wake, where I do most of my birding, and Dare County, which includes the Outer Banks and is simply one of the best birding destinations in the nation, let alone the state. Several others are within striking distance, some farther away distance-wise than others, and a couple nearby counties I’ve yet to even start on. I encourage other Carolina birders to join me, perhaps I can even get the Carolina Bird Club on board and make this an officially sanctioned competition per the Texas Century Club. It could certainly encourage birders to use eBird since that program keeps the data so neat and clean for you.
I’ve got no hurry though, I have a feeling this project is going to keep me busy for some time.