Join the Delaware Dunlins on Sunday, November 27, from Noon until 3:00pm for a Bald Eagle watching event at Conowingo Dam in Maryland. Watch dozens of eagles as they gather to feed on fish in the Susquehanna River, and see lots of waterbirds like ducks, geese, and herons.
View the Bald Eagle Trip Flyer full details. Come see America’s national symbol!
In the wee hours of Sunday, October 9, 2011, youth birder Mike Hudson and I trekked to the top of Hawk Watch Hill at Ashland Nature Center. Our goal: to start off the Big Sit birding event with some good “night birds.” For the next 24 hours, we’d compete in a world-wide birding event, trying to count all the birds observed while standing within a 17-foot diameter circle.
Listening on a clear, brightly moonlit night, we heard up the calls of distant Great-horned Owls, a close-by Screech Owl, and the brief barks of a Barred Owl. Overhead, the steady flight calls of Swainson’s Thrushes and Veeries told us that a strong nocturnal migrations of songbirds was taking place.
When dawn arrived, our crowd of birders atop the hill had grown, as had our bird list. We had 34 species by 7:00am, and the great sightings began. A Sharp-shinned Hawk flew over at 7:07, and became the first raptor migrant of the day. Soon hot breakfast sandwiches prepared by Chef Judy distracted us enough to make sure our bodies were prepared for the intense sitting and scanning that would take place for the rest of the daylight hours. A persistent Northern Mockingbird amused us by pecking on the owl decoy in front of the hill.
By 9:00am, we had tallied 60 species which is on average pace for our Big Sits at Ashland. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo showed off nicely, and sightings of a Black-and-white Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo boosted our list. Species number 60 was perhaps our “rarest” of the day: a female House Sparrow. For some reason, House Sparrows are extremely rare at Ashland! Two other special birds arrived in the 9 o’clock hour: a pair of Mallards brought up by our flock of youth birders to help as “avian assistants” by spotting high-flying birds.
Diligently scanning with binoculars and scopes, our yotuh birders kept adding birds to the list: Red-shouldered and Broad-winged Hawk, Common Nighthawks, Ring-billed Gull, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Throuhgout the afternoon, interesting birds flew by: a Great Blue Heron, Fish Crows(species number 70) , a Merlin, Belted Kingfisher, Red-eyed Vireo, and Palm Warbler. We ketp at it right until dusk, with an American Woodcock being the last bird added to the list.
Our final tally for the day? An impressive 75 species observed in 17 hours of birding effort. A great effort by a dozen youth birders, and more than 50 other birders who visited throughout the day helped us tally a great number of birds.
When all the reports were submitted from all around the world, our team placed 12th out of 206 total teams. We are very happy to finish in the top tier of a very fun “non-competitive” event!
To view the results of each site around the world, check out the 2011 Big Sit Reporting Circles.
Check out the overall standings at: 2011 Big Sit Results!
See you next year for the Big Sit!
- Derek Stoner, Big Sit Captain at Ashland Hawk Watch.