2010, a NA Big Year

Thought I’d share my slant on the past year. A big year is common in the birding world, try to see as many as possible in a given area from 1/1 to 12/31.

When 2010 started Jon Hall had seen more mammals in North America than I had. And the guy doesn’t even live here! Well, that’s because he’d been trying and I hadn’t. So I started off the year with a vague ambition of catching Jon.

When Matt Miller showed up with a place for Idaho Ground Squirrels and American Badgers, I figured that was a good place to go. Doh. That was a fantastic trip. Then Vladimir Dinets told us about Carrizo Plain NM, which turns out to be a truly wonderful place.

When I decided to do a BCI bat workshop in June, I figured I might as well go for broke and make it a big year. Trying for Alaska Marmot was an inspiration and an adventure (yea, Vladimir!!) and I ended up with 135 species, 88 of which were lifers.

My “favorite” is a three way tie between Long-tailed Weasel, which was so unexpected and obliging, hearing a Pygmy Rabbit,  Ringtail, Beluga, Island Gray Fox, Greater Bonneted Bat and both Pikas, LOL. My biggest surprise was Kangaroo Rats. I had never even seen one before and found 7 species. They are cute as buttons, IMHO, and were often quite cooperative, even hopping over to me and looking up at me from 2 feet away, then hopping away.

Best to all in 2011,



  • vladimir dinets

    You realize, of course, that we are all waiting for a full list with locations 🙂

    • John Fox

      You have only to ask, my friend! I use Avisys, which is listing software for world birds but it does have a data set for NA mammals (and herps,odes and leps, IIRC). I put the full list and lifers on my not-a-blog at


      It would be great if they come out with world mammals.

      • John Fox

        After learning a bit more about running reports in Avisys and how WordPress works, I added a couple lists to the link above. One way of doing it produces a much easier to read format.

        I took off the list with my comments, seemed a little too personal, but I’d be happy to share locations and info with people on this blog.

        Also added my ABA area life list. If you know of a place for something I need, feel free to get in touch. 🙂

  • Coke Smith

    I know exactly what you mean! Jon has outdone me in NA as well and not that I have moved out of the country to China, I have little hope of ever catching his sightings in my home continent! But at least have a a whopping TWO species of mammals nailed here in China – six months and two species is not bad is it???? I know – it’s pathetic. But at the end of this month, I hope to add to this list with some expedition done in Yunnan….

  • Curtis Hart

    That’s an great year in North America. I also was going for a big year there to win a bet. I ended up at 91 with around 15 lifers. The big sets of lifers came from 6 in 2 hours in the Carrizo Plain, and going with a herp survey in MN that trapped some shrews I would never have expected to see. The bet was for a case of cheap beer and a 6 pack of good beer. I haven’t received it yet.

  • Jon Hall

    135 species in one country in a year is indeed impressive! I said it before anmd I know I haven’t done anything yet … but what I would like to do is set up a blog page that lists all of the US species and then people can add their own information direct on where to see them. Maybe someone else would like to set this up? Is there an official electronic list of USA mammals somewhere?

    • Morgan Churchill

      The closest thing to an official checklist is this:


      However some of the taxonomic decisions (IIRC, I can’t bring up the file myself at the moment) are a bit wonky, with some widely accepted splits (Right Whales) not supported, and other more controversial or flat out wrong splits supported (Timber Wolf, Alaskan Hare, Davis Mountain Cottontail). Also some of the non natives listed as “established” I am skeptical of, such as the Japanese Macaque.

  • Matt Miller

    Hey John, glad to be a part of your “big year.” It was a lot of fun meeting up with mammal watchers for badgers, Idaho ground squirrels, ferrets, foxes and other stuff in 2010. I look forward to more stories and adventures this year.

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