Getting 100 for Guilford
Sure, it was only a matter of time, but that doesn’t make the actual accomplishment any less satisfying. Moving to a new part of the state was guaranteed to allow me to make real progress on my Carolina Century Club project, in which I attempt to pass the 100 species threshold in as many NC and SC counties as I can. After all, even though the number 100 holds some manner of symbolic value, any real birder knows that 100 in a given county is really nothing more than spending a certain amount of time in the field. With minimal effort you can probably do it in three trips, provided you do them in three different seasons.
I moved to Greensboro – in Guilford County – this summer with a bit over 50 species in the bag. I figured I’d get 100 by the end of the year. It turns out I underestimated myself; I had time to spare. Between the regular fall migrants and the recent arrival of wintering species I hit and passed the century mark at the end of October after a trip to Country Park, a site near my home I’d been trying out as a new patch (not gonna pan out, actually, but that’s a story for another time). I arrived with 98 species and a small flock of chittering passerines drew my attention soon after I got out of my car. I began to pick through them. 99 was Golden-crowned Kinglet. 100 was its Ruby-crowned cousin. It was just that easy.
Here’s another thing about 100 species in a county. That milestone species is almost never anything unexpected. For most counties, particularly in the east or those without an ocean-view, I’d consider 100 to be the minimum to consider it “well-birded”, for the reasons I alluded to above. You’ll either need to visit it multiple times over the year, or you’ll have covered it thoroughly in a short time*. 100, then, is par. Until you have 100, you’ve just been passing though.
*For instance, I recently returned from San Diego, California, which is easily the birdiest county in the country**. I racked up nearly 160 species in only four days, but we covered that county like a fitted sheet.
**You could make an argument for Los Angeles, but I’d still put money on San Diego just because there seems to be more resident birds, whereas LA’s nearly equivalent list consists of a greater percentage of vagrants.
I ended the morning with an additional 5 county birds putting me at 105. I’ve since upped it to 110. Like I said, most of these birds are winter residents. Nothing I’ve seen in the run-up to 100 and beyond has been particularly unusual and it probably won’t be till I hit 150 or so that things begin to slow down and I have to work a bit harder for it. 200 will be tougher though this is undoubtedly a county with the potential for 250+.
So that’s 8 counties now with 100+ species. Only 92 more to go.