I'll begin by saying that the Bird Nerds did indeed have a Big Day. Unfortunately, so did the 8th graders.
The scouting went well. We planned our route, then we re-routed based on intel gathered at the "swap meet". The swap meet is a meeting held on the Thursday before the contest for all teams to swap scouting reports. This year's report also included a weather report from Dave LaPuma who runs the woodcreeper.com website stating that winds would be perfect for migration and that birds would be arriving at Higbee beach on Friday night. Guess who else went to the swap meet? Yup, the 8th graders.
Our Big Day started at 3:30 AM (slightly later due to lower G.I. distress by your truly due to an untimely virus). We pulled up at Higbee Beach at 4 AM and sat and listened for a Barred Owl to hoot for about 5 minutes when 2 other cars pulled up - another team. They all got out of the cars and walked out into the field. We all looked at each other and then got out of the car too. We figured they knew something that we didn't know about the Barred Owl that we were waiting to hear. After another 5 minutes, the other team came walking past us out of the field. We said "good morning" as they walked past, then one of them yelled "its the Nerds!". It was Patty and her team. They didn't really know what they were doing and they didn't hear the owl, but they were going to another location to listen. We heard the owl hooting about 5 minutes after they left the field. HA.
That was the first time our team got a Barred Owl on the Big Day. Things only got better from there. We were scheduled to be at Higbee until 8 AM, but we left at 7 because we already had 58 species tallied. 58 species in 3 hours - 90 minutes of those were in the dark. By 9 AM we already had 2 other stops under our belts, the dogs were home and fed, the cat was fed, and 12 more species were racked up. We were really on a roll.
Each team member contributed to our tally in different ways. We got at least a dozen species through one member or another looking, listening, or re-routing us which really showed the team effort. I'll let them tell you their stories in their own time.
By suppertime, we had surpassed our previous total by quite a few birds, but still didn't have Red-tailed Hawk which should have been easy. We also didn't have Kingfisher, Green Heron, or Black-Crowned Night Heron. If we could get those birds, we would break the 140 mark. We got those birds and ended the day with 144 species - 23 more than last year!
But still 19 fewer than those 8th graders. Bitter? No. Do I seem bitter?