Around this time of year, apparently, many members of the birding community try to decide what kind of Year they're going to have. Many of those decide on the Big Year, with the magic number placed at 300. As much as this past year has made me appreciate how much effort would go into attempting a Big Year (much less succeeding), and as supportive I am of the Bigby subset of Big Years, I have decided to eschew that lofty goal--at least for this year. For one, I don't think I'm qualified to safely identify 300 different bird species yet. I've had to leave a few behind this past year simply because I am inexperienced. For two, I can't seem to wash out the taste of perhaps being called by some merely a lister. My love for lists notwithstanding, a Big Year seems extraneous to me, at least while I'm still cutting my teeth: it would be pretty ballsy of me to say I'm going to see 300 species when I've only cracked 125. To add another 175 notches to my belt isn't the same as setting out to explore new places and finding another, say, 50 lifers. So my new goal, not to be accomplished in a year, is to visit all of the Mass Audubon Society Sanctuaries open to the public (there are currently 45). I ostensibly started birding to get out of the house more, and what better way than to explore different parts of my home state that have been set aside and preserved precisely for that goal? Ultimately I think I will find this a rewarding adventure, perhaps more rewarding than chasing after rarities that occasionally show up--though I'm certainly not against the occasional birdchase. I have already tried to keep a tally of the trips I've made to my hometown's conservation land, which is controlled by The 300 Committee, I might even try to make visiting those open parcels another goal of mine. While each species I've seen has given me a rush, the surprising benefit of this past year has been my growing familiarity with my community. Wish me luck!