Sunday, May 16, 2010
Birders gone Wild !!!
It's the calm before the storm... the countdown to the start of my annual birding marathon! At 1:30am, I'll be heading out to join my buddies (and fellow birding geeks) Mark Weircinski and John Haselmayer for about 18 hours of fast-paced birding all over the Bruce Peninsula region. Our goal is to identify (by seeing or hearing) as many different species of birds as possible. We do this every year and our long-standing record is 174 species. Conditions are looking good this year for a shot at a fairly high total. This year we have a cameraman joining us to film the adventure... with any luck you'll be able to watch a short documentary "Birders Gone Wild" at some point in the future!
Our day that starts in darkness listening for owls and other birds that call only at night. Shortly before sunrise we visit wetlands to find a variety of marsh birds that are most active in early morning. We then race (with me at the wheel, driving like mad) to MacGregor Point Provincial Park for dawn chorus. The first 2 hours right after sunrise are critical - that's when bird activity is the highest. We'll be ticking off species at a fast rate and should be left with a good sense of how successful our day is likely to be by 8am. The rest of the day we'll meander our way north towards Tobermory, stopping at various habitats and locations which we select to target specific birds. Sometime around 8-10pm we'll drink a celebratory beer before collapsing in exhaustion.
I have the cooler packed with a grossly unhealthy selection of junk food and caffeine drinks to fuel us through the day. The van is loaded with binoculars, scopes and field guides. Now it's time to chill out before the adventure begins... wish us luck!
I'll try to post a few updates throughout the day on Twitter... follow them at www.twitter.com/outdoorphotos
The bird at the top of the post is a Virginia Rail.... an elusive marsh bird that we'll hear calling early in the morning.