[Ontbirds] My 2017 Big Year - summary and one more thank you

Jeremy Bensette Jeremy_Bensette at hotmail.com
Sat Jan 6 00:02:13 EST 2018

Happy New Year, Ontario birding community!

Somehow I made it through the whole year without posting a single email specifically about my Big Year to Ontbirds... So here goes! I am not posting about a specific current bird sighting, but rather more of a wrap-up of a birding event, so to speak.

The year 2017 was a pretty "big" and wild year for me birding-wise, as many of you already know. I committed to doing an all-out Big Year in our beautiful province of Ontario, and held onto that goal right until dark on the last day of the year. I have written a pretty long blog post, which I will include a link to in this email. I will say here that my final 2017 year list sits at 346 bird species, nearly unbelievably breaking Ontario's 2012 record of 343.

I want to thank our whole birding community one more time for your support in this magical journey. I am so grateful for anyone who considers me a friend, and I am especially thankful to Tim Arthur, Josh Vandermeulen, Sarah Lamond, and Bruce DiLabio, some of the coolest and best friends a young and *almost* hip birder could ask for! I owe each of you and a number of others a few meals or something! Special congratulations are in order for Tim, a great friend who drinks from the font of youth and stuck through the madness of overnight drives, brutal weather, and long days for a total of 329 species himself! Josh was unconditionally supportive toward this quest of mine in many ways including handing Ontario's Big Year record on to me when I passed his 343 in late November, and standing in his wedding this fall was a very special honour. Sarah gave up so much of her time through the year for great company while providing very high quality birding support, and we managed to scoop up a bunch of pretty awesome zingers together! Bruce was so supportive with birding and non-birding related talks and advice as a mentor and friend, and was also paramount in my ability to track down some seriously unusual and rare birds! These are by no means the only people I want to personally thank, but this email can only be so long, and those people are without question my team’s MVPs.

For those reading who do not know him, Alan Wormington was a great friend and mentor, and though he may not be with us today, he is a big part of why I did this at all. Alan is in many of our hearts and I know that we are always in his, and friends of his can probably understand when I say that I wish he was around so I could rub it in that I have a bigger year than his best! Haha, but really, so much of this is for Alan. I miss him as much as I did a year ago, and I wore a colourful 'lucky' belt of his every single day of 2017.

If anyone is wondering what comes next, I plan on enjoying some normal life and 'normal' birding for the first time in many months, and I look forward to drumming up support for conservation and community among birders to see if we can really add to the social momentum that birding and conservation seem to be gaining lately. I also plan on continuing toward a sustainable career in tour guiding and field biology work within Ontario right in the thick of this wonderful birding and conservation community! Please, if you see me out and about and want to chat, feel very welcome to do so. Like I have said before, much of the last year was a tired and/or hyped up blur, so please do not take it personally if I do not recall us meeting or cannot remember names. I promise I appreciate you all and want to show it as much as I can.

So here is the link to my blog about highlights, lowlights, feelings, and dynamics of the past year. I hope you enjoy, and stay tuned throughout this year for more about last year's crazy adventures!


Thanks again and I wish you all the best. Happy winter and happy New Year, and I look forward to seeing many of you here at Point Pelee area in May!!

xo - Jere

Jeremy Bensette - Leamington, ON
Ontario Big Year record set in 2017!
Thanks so much for the support this year.

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