2015 Recovery Big Year – Purpose & Goals

Kelley NunnRecovery Big Year

Yellow-rumped Warbler at Longwood Gardens

Today, May 15th, marks a personally meaningful recovery milestone. A year ago today, I transitioned from being independent– being able to drive myself around, work, etc.– to being bed-ridden. At the time, I didn’t know what was wrong, or if I would ever get better. As the 15th of every month passed by, and it became 2..5..8..10 months in bed, I hoped that by May 15th of 2015 I would be feeling better. Now, I am far from bed-ridden. I can go on bird walks, walk 10,000+ steps per day, drive 45+ minutes (and at night), and more. I have to say, it is an incredible relief.

In honor of this milestone, I wanted to post the purpose and goals of my 2015 Recovery Big Year:

Purpose of my 2015 Recovery Big Year:

Vestibular Migraines are extremely common: an estimated 1/100 people suffer from this poorly understood disorder, and an estimated 50% of those people are currently undiagnosed. My mission in creating this website is to:

• Raise awareness about the prevalence of vestibular migraine and the treatment of migraine disorders.

• Publicize the association between Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), vertigo, and migraine.

• Support others struggling with debilitating illnesses, mystery illnesses, and migraine disorder.

• Bring bird watching as a therapeutic activity to others who are suffering from chronic illness.

Goals for my 2015 Recovery Big Year:

I expect that as I continue to improve, I may tweak some of these goals. As my health currently stands, these are my goals.

• To submit over 500 eBird checklists

• Bird in at least 8 states around the U.S.

• See at least 250 species of birds

• Complete all eBird monthly challenges for 2015

• Go on a pelagic birding trip

• Visit over 75 unique birding locations

• Add 10 new species to my life list from the following:


  • Pink-footed Goose
  • Barnacle Goose
  • Eared Grebe
  • Little Egret
  • White-faced Ibis


  • Northern Goshawk
  • Swallow-tailed Kite (North America Life List)
  • Gyrfalcon

Game Birds:

  • Northern Bobwhite (added July 12th at Bombay Hook NWR)
  • Ruffed Grouse


  • I have never seen a rail/Sora, so I would like to see one (added 23 May at Mispillion Nature Center)


  • American Golden-Plover
  • Upland Sandpiper (added 9/13 as NFC flyover)
  • Black-tailed, Hudsonian, or Marbled Godwit (added 8/29)
  • Red Knot (added May 19th)
  • Ruff
  • Ruddy Turnstone (added May 19th)
  • Stilt Sandpiper (added Aug 1st)
  • Buff-breasted Sandpiper
  • Western Sandpiper (added 8/29)
  • Long-billed Dowitcher (added Aug 1st)
  • Wilson’s Phalarope
  • Red-necked Phalarope

Gulls, Jaegers, and Terns:

  • Parasitic Jaeger
  • Black-legged Kittiwake
  • Sabine’s Gull
  • Black-headed Gull
  • Little Gull
  • Gull-billed Tern
  • Royal Tern


  • Any alcid would be a lifer!


  • Alder Flycatcher (seen May 11th)


  • Cave Swallow


  • Brown-headed Nuthatch (seen at Cape Henlopen SP on 6/28)


  • Sedge Wren


  • Lapland Longspur


  • Worm-eating Warbler
  • Golden-winged Warbler
  • Prothonotary Warbler (Chambers Lake on 7/3)
  • Cerulean Warbler


  • Clay-colored Sparrow
  • Nelson’s Sparrow

If anyone has any tips about seeing some of these species or any advice about noteworthy birding spectacles (like the morning flight at Cape May point), please let me know! Also, if you’d like to go birding sometime, send me a message. Thank you!