Updates to the 2022 plan

January 2022

The first change that was forced on my 2022 program was the decision by the New Zealand government not to open NZ to tourism prior to the date of my proposed trip to the Chatham Islands. I siezed on the fact that while NZ was closed, Fiji was open. I quickly put together a private trip to Fiji for Robin and me in February. An account of this trip can be seen in Trips/Fiji. The NZ trip has been postponed to March 2023.

I then realised I could fit in a trip to Hawaii in March that Josh Bergmark was leading for Birdquest. I booked for that trip taking the last place. An account of this trip can be seen in Trips/Hawaii.

After I booked for Hawaii it occurred to me that being more than half way across the Pacific was a good excuse for going on to the Continental USA and doing a “Colorado Chicken Run” trip to see Grouse and Rosy Finches. There were a number of companies offering such trips but many were already booked out by the time I started making enquiries. A combination of availability of a place, dates being suitable and reputation of the leader lead me to opt for another Birdquest trip. Again I grabbed the last place on the tour. An account of this trip can be seen in Trips/Colorado.

There were a few days between the end of the Hawaii trip and the beginning of the Colorado trip. There were a couple of pelagic trips going out from Kona, Hawaii on the weekend following the end of the Birdquest Hawaii trip so I booked on those. I had hopes that I might see some new oceanic birds. While both trips were very enjoyable and well run, I did not have the pleasure of any new birds.

I decided to spend the remainder of the time between the two Birdquest trips in North Texas as I had found from previous research that there were quite a number of birds that live in, or at least pass through, that area which would be new for me. I screwed up badly by missing a connecting flight on my way to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. This caused me to miss an afternoon of birding there while also badly inconveniencing my local contact. I did, however, get one day of very enjoyable birding with him the following day. An account of this days birding can be seen in Trips/Dallas-Fort Worth.

I estimated that taken together these 3 trips might produce , at most 50 new species. I might have done better to go to one country with a higher number of possible target species. The choice was however based on a long standing desire to bird both Hawaii and Colorado, and the need to make a quick decision.

April 2022

My experience birding for a month in the US left me feeling that another month of hard birding straight away might be a bit much. I had really enjoyed the whole month and was still very much engaged with the chase right up to the end. I did however enjoy returning home and relaxing rather than getting up well before dawn each day. My planning had included back-to-back trips in both 2022 and 2023 so I looked first at the planned program for 2022 to see what could be done to separate the trips.

Angola in August 2022 was planned to be followed by trips to Sao Tome/Principe and Gabon. These had been booked with Rockjumper but no deposits had been paid as the trips had not been confirmed. As it happened the trips were short of the requisite number of participants and the flight schedules introduced during the pandemic made it difficult to fly from Angola to Sao Tome at the time required. I therefore cancelled both of the Sao/Tome and Gabon trips. That sorted the two months continuous birding issue for 2022 but took a significant number of possible new birds off the table.

The original plan provided for the first half of 2022 to only include the New Zealand trip (11 new birds). In fact, by birding in Fiji and the USA I had seen 75 new birds that were not in the original plan.

I had thought about doing a little birding in Bali on my way to the Banda Sea in October/November. The reduced prospects created by cancelling Sao Tome/Principe and Gabon got me thinking about expanding this some more. I am now arranging 4 days of birding East Java and Bali with a guide prior to the Banda Sea trip. This could yield 30 to 40 new birds in the short term. These sightings however will largely be replicated by other trips to Indonesia.

These alterations to the plan mean that the projection for the life list at the end of 2022 is now 6,136, leaving 864 to find in 2023.