The Big Sit for 2008 is over and we paid the price for only a couple hours of sleep. But after our third year in a row participating in the Big Sit at Rock Cut State Park, we broke our record and then some!
Before we could get our count on, we had to wait until midnight. As we waited, while playing catch, Dakota fetched an overthrown baseball and errantly stumbled into poison ivy. Of course, this misstep had to be rectified, so after a trip to get anti-itch lotion and a shower at home, the young naturalist was good as new again.
12:01 AM – The first bird of the night was a member of a Canada Goose horde that proceeded to honk at each other all night long.
12:05 AM – The second bird of the night was a calling Great Blue Heron.
The night went by slow after the first two birds. We took a bit of a snooze in the car and were awakened by the always awesome call of the Barred Owl. We rolled down all the windows and realized one owl was calling from the tree next to the car. After Birdfreak let out an imitation of “who-cooks-for-you”, a second owl flew into view and soon we were surrounded. An estimate of five Barred Owls continued to call for over an hour, all in trees in our campsite.
After the owl party subsided, we went back to bed to be well-rested (yeah right) for the early morning bird chorus. When we awoke again, a Great Horned Owl became bird number four, opening the flood gates of birds.
Before the morning was over, our record was broken. Two years ago we had netted 30 species and last year we only had 29. The record-tying bird was a Gray Catbird and the record breaker was a Red-eyed Vireo.
By days end, as we could barely keep our eyes open, we had reached 42 species of birds, the last being two Broad-winged Hawks that swirled calmly above on the journey south.