Centre County Big Year 2012

Every year, a few of the birders here in Centre County as well as myself, attempt to find as many bird species as we can within one year. Last year Drew Weber, Joe Verica, and Nate Fronk all broke the record for a Centre County Big Year! This will be my first full year birding in the county, so I am hoping to break my previous personal year total of 205 species. In addition to just birds, my friend Josh Lefever and I thought we should give some of the other vertebrates in the county some attention and attempt to do a Big Year in Centre County for all of the county’s vertebrate species. We researched this past fall exactly what species of mammals, snakes, salamanders, turtles, frogs, lizards, and fish are known to occur within the county (ironically this is not taught to us in any of our courses as wildlife science students, except for ornithology).

So far this year, I have seen 133 birds, 17 mammals, 5 frogs, 5 fish, 2 turtles, 2 salamanders, and 1 snake. I think I am doing well for birds, but really need to step it up with the other animals. Even though they aren’t vertebrates, I also have always liked to keep track of the butterflies and dragonflies that I see, and have a good list going for them so far this year in the county as well. At any rate, I thought that I would share some photos from my Centre County Vertebrate Big Year so far and included some notes in the captions of each photo! Also, if anyone has tips for helping us find some of the more uncommon species or would like to join us in searching, let me know!

Red Squirrel at the Duck Pond - I currently have seen Eastern Gray Squirrel, Fox Squirrel, Red Squirrel, and Southern Flying Squirrel so far this year. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Spring Peeper at Scotia Barrens - This species is without a doubt the most vocal and most readily-seen frog species in the county currently. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Southern Red-backed Vole at Tussey Mtn Hawkwatch - I really didn't expect to be able to find many small mammal species at all this year, but luckily this hungry little fellow is a daily visitor to the hawkwatch. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

This wouldn't be www.nemesisbird.com if I didn't include an actual bird in this post, so here is my first-ever Purple Martin in Centre County! This immature bird was at Julian Wetlands. Since I had only ever birded Centre County between late August and December, I had never gotten to see a martin in the county until this year. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

A monster Snapping Turtle at Toftrees Pond. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

I am doing poorly for salamanders so far this year, and besides the abundant Red-spotted Newts, this Spotted Salamander is the only species I have found. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

White-footed Mice, like this one, were in a lot of the bluebird boxes along my bluebird route....unfortunately I had to evict them. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Woodchucks are very, very common in Centre County especially at Toftrees Gamelands, where this photo was recently taken. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

This Canadian Tiger Swallowtail was a lifer for me, when I found it along Tussey Mtn. (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)