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View from Big Sit location at Buck Creek State Park by Doug Overacker

Sunset by Doug Overacker

Julie and I arrived at our Big Sit spot at about 6:56 AM to a chorus of Killdeers. We soon added several other birds that were singing or calling. It was very cold this morning with a fairly heavy frost but it was mostly sunny all day. The wind was almost calm in the early morning but it got a little stronger during the middle of the day from the northwest. It calmed down again as evening  approached. Several Song Sparrows were singing before it was very light but then we didn't here them during the day. A couple sang again as it got dark. There was some mist over the water early as the cold air met the warmer water. That made seeing the birds on the lake difficult until it burned off.  At 8:16 we saw a single Sharp-shinned Hawk fly by. A little later Larry found a Sharp-shinned Hawk sitting on a tree on one of the islands. Later we saw a couple more. As the mist over the lake burned off we were able to search the mudflats for shorebirds. We found a couple Lesser Yellowlegs and then a couple Pectoral Sandpipers. Later in the day we added Semipalmated Plovers and Greater Yellowlegs to our list of shorebirds. I spotted a warbler in a small tree but didn't get a good look so I walked out to find it again and saw that it was a Nashville Warbler. A few minutes later Julie found a phoebe on one of the islands. At 9:30 a Canada Goose finally flew over. We were able to add several more birds to our list by 10:30 but then things were slowing down. We were hearing very few bird calls. Even the Killdeer had left. There were at least a couple hundred early but then most of them disappeared. At a little after noon a Cooper's Hawk flew by and stirred some of the birds. A few minutes later all of the gulls flew and we started looking around. Julie spotted a Bald Eagle and it  continued south. A few minutes later another one flew over. We finally heard a Red-bellied Woodpecker at 12:30 and then it really got quiet. We looked over the gulls and shorebirds repeatedly but continued to see the same species. Finally at about 5:08 I spotted a mockingbird sitting on one of the larger power line poles. At 5:28 we heard a White-throated Sparrow calling for the last bird we would find for the day. We had an eagle fly over just before 6:00 but weren't sure whether it was one of the earlier ones or a third for the day. We stayed until after 7:00 and watched a great sunset but didn't add any more species to our list. The weather seemed to be great but there didn't seem to be much food for the small birds nearby and we missed some common species. We also didn't get any nocturnal species and only two duck species. We ended up far below our 69 species of two years ago. Below is the list of birds we saw this year and the times we first spotted them.

1          Killdeer                                 6:57
2          Red-winged Blackbird              7:00
3          Song Sparrow                       7:04
4          Eastern Towhee                     7:04
5          American Robin                      7:10   
6          Mallard                                 7:11
7          Swamp Sparrow                      7:12
8          Northern Cardinal                    7:12
9          Mourning Dove                       7:13
10        Great Blue Heron                     7:18
11        Wood Ducks                           7:25
12        American Crow                       7:26
13        Ring-billed Gull                        7:29
14        Common Grackle                     7:39
15        American Goldfinch                  7:39
16        Carolina Wren                        7:41
17        Brown-headed Cowbird            7:44
18        European Starling                   7:48
19        Belted Kingfisher                     7:53
20        Cedar Waxwing                       7:56
21        House Finch                           7:57
22        Yellow-rumped Warbler             8:02
23        Tree Swallow                         8:09
24        Downy Woodpecker                 8:10
25        Sharp-shinned Hawk                8:16
26        Blue Jay                                8:28
27        Lesser Yellowlegs                    8:29
28        Bonaparte's Gull                      8:44
29        Pectoral Sandpiper                  8:55
30        Nashville Warbler                     9:16
31        White-breasted Nuthatch         9:17
32        Eastern Phoebe                      9:22
33        Least Sandpiper                      9:25
34        Canada Goose                        9:30
35        Horned Lark                           9:38
36        Pied-billed Grebe                     9:39
37        Northern Flicker                      9:40
38        Double-crested Cormorant        9:49
39        Common Yellowthroat              9:51
40        White-crowned Sparrow           9:57
41        Semipalmated Plover              10:14
42        Turkey Vulture                      10:21
43        Herring Gull                           10:22
44        Carolina Chickadee                 10:22
45        Chimney Swift                       10:26
46        Eastern Bluebird                    10:30
47        American Coot                      10:32
48        American Pipit                       10:46
49        Red-tailed Hawk                    10:49
50        Stilt Sandpiper                      11:19
51        Greater Yellowlegs                 11:46
52        Cooper's Hawk                      12:10
53        Bald Eagle                            12:19
54        Red-bellied Woodpecker         12:30
55        Northern Mockingbird              5:08
56        White-throated Sparrow          5:28

 

Participants

Doug Overacker
Julie Karlson
Larry Jeanblanc
Tom Beachy