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In 1998, Greg zig-zagged 130,000 miles across the USA, while trying to hold down a full-time job, aspiring to reach at least 700 species of birds in one calendar year. "The Big Year," a novel by Mark Obmascik detailed his travails alongside two competitors. The book was later turned into a movie of the same title that starred Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson!

DIY Big Year: Best 4 Consecutive Weeks

Upland Sandpiper
Upland Sandpiper – photo by Greg Miller

In the last couple posts I wrote about plans for how to use 4 individual weeks out of a year to your best advantage. One post was for the Lower 48 States. The next one was the U.S. including Alaska and Hawaii. Today’s post addresses another possibility—the best 4 consecutive weeks. This is primarily for those who are visiting from outside the U.S. and they have 4 weeks but only want to make one trip to the U.S.

This project posed a little more thought in solving. But in hindsight I found it to be more simple than I imagined. The results are remarkably similar to the previous two plans. Here you go.

The Working Person’s Big Year Plan: The Best 4 Consecutive Weeks

  1. Cameron County, Texas / April 22-30 / 193 new species / total 193
  2. Clallam County, Washington / May 1-7 / 103 new species / total 296
  3. Cochise County, Arizona / May 8-14 / 64 new species / total 360
  4. Worcester County, Maryland / May 15-21 / 29 new species / total 389

Well. It came as no surprise that those first 3 weeks stayed in place. But it was a fun problem to solve since the best 4 consecutive weeks was a big sliding window. And each of the 4 weeks could be to any one of the 299 counties in my database.

For trip #4, I must give a nod to my former home State of Maryland. Birders there will know what a great place to bird Worcester County is. Although the total number of species doesn’t quite reach 400, I think this is a pretty amazing block of birding time in the U.S.

In the working world where I was not too long ago, one learns to be rather adept at using their weeks of vacation time. For instance, 4 weeks of vacation time is really 20 days. If one would add two days to each weekend, you could swing 10 4-day weekends (2 days vacation plus 2-day weekend). It’s just a different way of using your time. But a day of travel to a destination and a day of travel in returning home leaves only 2 full days of birding time. That is less than half of the 5 full days of birding for a full week off.

So how many birds could one see in 10 long, 4-day weekends? Ah. That will be in the next post.

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