By Ashley Peele
Meet James Fox, a stellar Atlas volunteer whose story needed sharing amongst the larger birding community. He is an awesome contributor for several reasons, but primarily because he not only dove in to the Atlas project this spring, but also launched a Virginia Big Year in January! Despite his big year goals, James has taken the time to contribute breeding observations from all over the state. Receiving data from folks who are birding remote parts of the state is hugely valuable to the Atlas project, given the challenge of covering sparsely populated corners of the state.
Here’s a little background from James himself…
“I am a web developer from Front Royal and have been birding for most of my life, mainly in Michigan where I grew up and now in Virginia. I have been using eBird since 2007 and have been an eBird reviewer for several northwest VA counties for the past year. It is great to know that your observations are being used to monitor the changes in bird populations and it is fantastic that the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas is building off of the already valuable data in eBird and providing another dimension to the data. In addition to participating in the atlas this year I have also done bird surveys for the NEON project at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal and am in the middle of a Virginia Big year (I am at 315 species so far).
I really like how the atlas encourages you to go out and bird local spots more thoroughly, especially during the summer when the birding is usually slower. It is also fun trying to confirm breeders from the more remote corners of the state that I have been to because of my big year.”
We sure appreciate his efforts and are following his big year progress with interest! Great to have young birders taking active roles in the birding community and pushing the birding records. While our Atlas season is winding down, James (and other birders) are gearing up for fall migration and the hope of more species for his year list. Best of luck, James, and thanks again for all your efforts!