Brandon Brywczynski has been a bird watcher since he was 10-years-old. Now he's a young, married adult with one child and another on the way who substitute teaches at Four County Vocational School.
His birding had always been a past-time, but he became serious about it after watching the movie “The Big Year” starring Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson.
The movie is based on the true story of Greg Miller, a computer consultant from Canton, Ohio. Miller, who appeared at Maumee Bay State Park for a special movie screening during the Black Swamp Bird Observatory's Biggest Week in American Birding last May, had gone on a quest to identify more than 700 bird species in 365 days during his Big Year, 1998.
Brywczynski said, “That made me read a little bit more about what a big year was, and is, and I got a little bit of the history there. That made me decide right around January 11, it was 11 days into the year, but if I start now it will be alright, and I'm going to do a 'Big Year.'”
So Brywczynski's Big Year is 2013, and you can read about its progress online.
A University of Toledo alumnus with undergraduate degrees in social studies and history, he became interested in technology integration in the classroom for his masters degree.
Now, when he spots a bird and wants to write about his quest, he posts it online at www.brandonsbigyear.blogspot.com. To see how his count is going, visit a link at www.presspublications.com.
“I have always loved birding, but this year it has become an obsession to be sure. The good kind of obsession though.” Brywczynski posted. “I mean, I’m not a creeper who really likes feet...you know? This infatuation has afforded me opportunities to meet some really cool people and to see some really cool birds.”
Brywczynski admits on his blog that he is no bird expert and being a birder means making sacrifices.
“I've been a birder for as long as I remember. I love nature in general, but birds have always been one of my greatest interests. I can't explain it,” he posted.
“Over the years many friends have kidded me about this somewhat nerdy hobby, but I've never exactly been one to buckle to peer pressure and go with the crowd. Instead I'm hopeful that those very same people will someday see how great and, dare I say, exciting birding can be. Thank you for reading my blog and happy birding!”
It was the master’s degree classes that motivated Brywczynski to create the blog and post his writings and photos on the web. It's birding and technology wrapped into one.
“It's as much about birding as it is about me doing something new.” Brywczynski said. “Blogging, I learn something new every day.”
Two weeks ago Brywczynski was heading out with his father and young daughter to the former Crane Creek in Ottawa County to see if he could find any ducks. His wife Elissa, a pharmacist, goes along on other trips.
“There's a ton of things (on my list to find).” Brywczynski said. “As far as ducks are concerned, I want to get some of the scoters — there are three different kinds and two of them have been seen on Bayshore Road.
“I haven't gotten over there, but come spring migration I also have a bunch of warblers I need to get. Toward the end of year, if everything works out, my dad and I are going to try and take a trip down to the Rio Grande Valley because that's basically birders' heaven down there.”
As he posts the birds he's found, he also posts where he found them. Locations are numerous and diverse. They include along the Lake Erie shoreline, across Northwest Ohio and Michigan's countryside, and in state and national parks around the country.
“I would like to average a bird a day.” Brywczynski wrote. “I am ahead of that pace right now, but that is mostly due to the fact that Elissa and I took that trip down to the Everglades. The ducks are starting to roll in now, but I got most of those down in Florida, too. In order to stay on track I will need to make trips for specific species. To pick up a few more, Lis and I might head up to Port Huron, Michigan in two weeks to hopefully see Black, White-winged, and Surf Scoters. Long-tailed Ducks will also be a target. It will be nearly the end of migration for these cold weather waterfowl, but that is the earliest we can get up there.”
Brywczynski's blog includes links to other bird watching websites and he's even gotten a response from another birder following his progress.
Captain Dave Hunt of www.evergladesbirding.com commented, “Congrats on all the birds you (identified) in Florida! Your list is moving along quit nicely. Lots of turnstones and m.godwits in the park right now unlike our trip...Good luck in the coming months.”
Brywczynski can be found volunteering during this year's Biggest Week in American Birding, scheduled for May 3-12.
“I recently volunteered to be a driver for a couple of tour groups during the peak of Spring migration,” Brywczynski announced. “Greg Links presented me with these opportunities and I eagerly accepted the offer..
“On the morning of Saturday, May 4th I will be driving other birders to local hotspots like Maumee Bay State Park, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Metzger’s March, and Magee Marsh. On Sunday, May 5th I will be a driver for an all day affair in Erie County. I am especially looking forward to this trip because I really haven’t done any birding that far east.”