I first heard about Bob Ake in the local newspaper earlier this year. I was drawn to his story not just because he enjoys birds, but also because Bob is a local guy from the Hampton Roads area of VA (my hometown). The former ODU professor retired early to follow his passion – BIRDS!
Bob volunteers and counts shorebirds for the for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and can be found almost anywhere along the Chesapeake Bay looking for birds. He received his first field guide in the mid 60s and has been chasing birds ever since. In fact, he was one of the few birders chosen in 2006 by Cornell University to help comb the woods of Arkansas and Florida for the ivory-billed woodpecker. He has helped band birds, works with the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory on hawk watches, and does Christmas bird surveys for the Audubon Society. But Nov. 30 was his last survey for a while. He will devote all of 2010 to counting birds for himself, something he has been planning for a long time.
He is on a mission this year is to see 650 different U.S. birds, more than he’s ever seen in a single year. When birders set out to see as many birds as possible within 12 months, it’s called a Big Year.
Bob sat down with the American Birding Association lists of 957 bird species endemic to North America and began figuring out his itinerary. He will travel all across the United States this year with a goal of spotting two-thirds of the birds from that list.
Bob didn't waste any time – he started his quest on January one and was up to 116 species in just the first few days. The total to this point stands at 386. He’s well on his way!
If interested, check out Bob Ake’s blog to track his progress: http://bobsbirds.blogspot.com/. He post regular updates with photos of his Big Year adventure. I hope you find his story and blog as interesting as I have. To read this complete article follow this link: http://snipurl.com/umgxe
STEVE EARLEY PHOTOS | THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
Reference Info: Virginian Pilot; Jan 10, 2010; Magazine; page E1; “Day 1: 82 down. 568 to go”; by Diane Tennant