Monday, October 14, 2013

An Excellent Big Sit

Turkey Vulture in Flight (Photo: Geoff Gallice, Wikimedia Commons)
More people participated in the Big Sit on Sunday morning than we have ever had--we had a total of 11 people who came at one time or another.  Peggy Browning (who wrote Saturday's article about the Big Sit in the Times Record News), Tami Davis, Jim Hensley, Sue King, Warren King, Terry McKee, June McKee, Chris Peterson, Katherine Smith, and Chuck Thueson watched birds with me from 7:30 - 10:00 AM.

We thought this would be a lackluster year because of the drought and predicted rain. The location of the Big Sit, behind Wild Bird Rescue has been dry for a while and is now a good distance from any water. We did not have nearly the number of ducks and shorebirds we could have because the birds were too far to positively identify, even with a scope. However, in spite of that, we did have a very good count. The weather was also very pleasant, although none of us would have been upset if it had been pouring rain.

One of the highlights of the morning included a continuous series of kettles of migrating turkey vultures. A total of 147 vultures passed overhead during the 2.5 hours we were observing. The sight was even more impressive given that the vultures don't take to the air until later in the morning when they can catch a good updraft.

Another highlight was the sighting of 4 species of woodpeckers. Usually we are lucky to find one or two species. We had a red-bellied woodpecker, two northern flickers, a pair of downy woodpeckers and a hairy woodpecker, a less common woodpecker.

Altogether we 29 species--not bad considering the conditions and the limited time the Sit took place. We did have some birds we were not able to identify for one reason or another (usually too short of a view or poor lighting.)

Here is a complete listing of birds seen:

Canada goose
White pelican
Northern shoveler
Great blue heron
Greater yellowlegs
Long-billed dowitcher
Double-crested cormorant
American avocet
Turkey vulture
Downy woodpecker
Hairy woodpecker
Red-bellied woodpecker
Northern flicker
White-winged dove
Mourning dove
Rock pigeon
American robin
Scissor-tailed flycatcher
Yellow warbler
Northern mockingbird
Northern cardinal
Blue jay
Ruby-crowned kinglet
European starling
Eastern meadowlark
Red-winged blackbird
Great-tailed grackle
House finch

Many thanks to Katherine Smith of Wild Birds Unlimited for donating a goodie bag to all of the participants.

All in all, a great morning.

Good birding!

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