The 2015 Whipple Bird Club Big Sit in the birding tower at Indigo Hill started off slower than expected. Snowy tree crickets and other assorted singing insects created just enough white noise to make it hard to hear the calls of night migrating birds overhead. Then, about 4:30 a.m. the wind picked up and took over the job of keeping our heard-only list short.
By the time dawn crept in and the first Big Sit guests began arriving, the bird list total was in the low 20s and the outside temperature was in the high 30s. Brrr.
|Yours truly, Captain of the Indigo Hill Big Sit, in the freezing cold pre-dawn.|
The morning bird action was hot. Lots of expected resident species: northern cardinal, eastern towhee, Carolina wren, blue jay, American crow, red-shouldered hawk. This was augmented by some expected fall arrivals: yellow-rumped warbler, dark-eyed junco, yellow-bellied sapsucker, white-throated and white-crowned sparrows. We also had a few hold-outs—birds that should have been gone by now: gray catbird, brown thrasher, chipping sparrow, house wren, tree swallow, And then there were the surprises: six thrush species, including gray-cheeked and veery, Philadelphia vireo, red-headed woodpecker, green heron. We did better on warblers than we did in 2013—a decidedly down year for us. This year we had six warbler species: Tennessee, Cape May, magnolia, blackpoll, yellow-rumped, and black-throated green.
We passed 50 species, then 60. Things were looking really good. Then the cloud cover blew in from the Southeast and it began to drizzle. it continued on and off from about noon until 4:00 p.m. This killed the bird activity more or less. Leaving us stranded at 68 species. Our all-time record for this Big Sit is 72. We could practically smell and taste 73. A palm and magnolia warbler had been our last two adds. One found by Julie Zickefoose, one by Kyle Carlsen. We were hoping that the lifting of the rain would lift the bird activity and our list of sightings, and thus our spirits.
|Shila in her rain poncho.|
|Kyle and the hands of others toasting a great day before it was over.|
|David "Tools" Wesel demonstrating how to eat Cheetos, official snack for of the IHBS.|
We could feel the magic. We could DO this!
|We never stop looking.|
Most Big Sits are full of "what ifs." This Big Sit was prevented from being a record-setter by the afternoon drizzle. But that didn't stop us from having a record amount of fun.
|Official beer mug makes the Big Sit beer taste better.|
|Late in the day the sun came back to taunt us.|
Thanks to all the friends near and far who made it to our Big Sit, held their own Sit, or merely participated vicariously via social media (#bigsit). You can see some of the results at both the Big Sit Live page and at the Big Sit results home page.
The official/traditional date of the 2015 Big Sit will be Sunday, October 11. Some sitters will elect to Sit on Saturday, October 10, and that's OK, too.
|While the sun never sets on the British Empire, it did set on the 2014 Big Sit.|