Playing against Par

A few years ago I decided to sit down in December and figure how many species I should see the following year in my local area. Later on I read something by Pete Dunne and he called it playing against par.  I thought the term fit.  Playing against par instead of against another birder. For non-golf readers par is simply the amount of shots it should take to play a round of golf. The norm. For birding it is the number species seen in an area over a certain period of time.

Using past experience and status/distribution charts I figure a Midwest birder without access to a major lake or waterway, but with smaller lakes and ponds, should see approximately 190 species over the course of a year. So par should be set at 190. But 190 is not a nice neat number. 200 is a nice neat number.

After figuring the 190 pieces I then added the other 10 or so I might see to get to 200 species. Reality and experience told me that I will probably miss 5 or 6 of those original 190 on the list and I’ll probably pick up five or six I hadn’t counted on seeing.

And this is where bushwhacking comes into play. The constant thinking and searching for habitat and birds that are difficult to find. This year has pretty well played out the way I thought and in early October I have 192 species  in my local area. Only time will tell if I play to par this year.

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