Sunday, May 12, 2013

World Series of Birding - 2013

This is our 3rd year doing the World Series of Birding (WSB) - the one day contest to see as many bird species as possible in New Jersey in order to raise money for conservation charity. 

I spent a few days scouting for the Big Day with my team plus with the DVOC Loons. Friday was awesome! We saw a ton of birds including 5 "life birds" like Red Phalarope and Gray-cheeked Thrush plus a dozen warblers and other "First of Year" birds too. We also helped the Loons stake out a Barn Owl. 

Scouting at Higbee

We were all set to top last year's total of 144 birds. We went to bed early in anticipation of starting our big day at 2:30 AM.  Imagine how disappointed we were when it started to rain just as we left.

Early morning
You would assume that we would improve our total each year. You know, learn something new that would help us see more birds or improve our route through Cape May county or pin down locations of some of the birds that we should "get".  Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn't care about the preparation and knowledge that we have accumulated over the past 3 years.  The one thing that we didn't really have a plan for was rain.  We planned for mosquitoes by taping screens to the car windows.  We didn't plan on having to drive through knee deep puddles to retrieve the screen after it was pulled off the car by an attack sticker bush.

Screen retrieval
 We planned to use our iPhones to look up info on birds and directions to locations.  We didn't plan to use them to look up Doppler.  We didn't plan on wearing rain gear and having to find birds through downpours.  This is one shot of our day.  The blue dot is us, the green is rain. The yellow is heavy rain. The red is severe rain. . .

There were a few breaks in the weather.

Nerds and dogs birding Cox Hall Creek
 But then the rain started again and chased us back to the car for cover. We even had to wait for the rain to slow down to dash to the bathroom at the Visitor Center.

Binoculars are no use in torrential rain
 If it seems like I'm complaining - it's because I am. We do this for our personal fun and also to help raise money for conservation charities.  Having higher total birds theoretically means more funds raised, but also means that we are getting better at this stuff. 

We ended the day as it began - in the dark with threatening skies and rain.  We ended with 3 new birds at the Meadows - Woodcock, Virginia Rail and Green-winged Teal which brought the total for the day to 136 which is 6 fewer than last year but 36 more that I thought we would get while sitting in the car waiting out the rain. 

Clouds over the Meadows at dusk
We should have had more birds this year.  We should have done better.  We did have a lot of laughs despite the rain. We will do better next year.  I hope you pledge something.  Let me know if you want to contribute something to NJ Audubon or DVOC youth.

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