Saturday, January 19, 2008

So how about a Southern Appalachian Big Year?

We previously reported on Robert Michael Pyle's Big Year for butterflies out west. Pyle is attempting to see as many butterfly species as he can during the calendar year of 2008.

Well, this post is about yet another kind of big year, and it's not Appalachian-related either, but when I read about it, I couldn't help thinking that it would be a good project for somebody here in the southern highlands.

During 2007, Jim Brighton dedicated himself to what he called his Delmarva Photo Big Year. It was an effort to support the American Bird Conservancy's Junin Grebe project. His goal was to photograph as many birds, reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and mammals living in the Delmarva Peninsula as possible. Over the course of 2007 he got 397 photographs, many of which you can see here. The painted lady thumbnailed above is available for sale at his site as a printed glossy in several sizes, along with photos of many other species. Prices are cheap and they're gorgeous -- check it out.

As a bonus, he got state records in Maryland for the furtive forktail and duckweed firetail damselflies, as well as a photo of the King's hairstreak. The latter had been found previously only in a tiny part of Maryland.

He raised $1200, and blogged about his adventures here.

As I paged through his photos and read his blog, what I was thinking was, "Wow. What a cool project!" And also, "I wish I had a job that would let me do this kind of thing."

This would be a wonderful undertaking for somebody in our part of the world. Heck, why not throw wildflowers into the mix and post photos of those as well? Forgive my chauvinism, but I think a Southern Appalachian Big Year could produce even more beautiful photographs and a higher species total. It would be fun to watch as somebody tried this in the Blue Ridge, the Alleghenies, the Smokies, etc.

All we need is an intrepid volunteer.

Anybody? Anybody?

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