Birdathon May 17, 2014
The birding conditions going into the 56th Big Run were fairly typical, but several changes took place that added some spice to an otherwise normal year. First among these was the annexation of Jefferson and Lewis Counties to the target area. This made possible the addition of two new species to the all-time list – a long-awaited Snowy Owl, and the incredibly rare Willow Ptarmigan, both on Point Peninsula. Another big change was a shuffling of members in the team lineup. Three new teams joined, while six of the regular teams did not participate. This left some free agents who transferred to other teams. But, the singular event for the year was the Woodcocks team going into semi-retirement, changing the landscape in the competitive team arena.
All together, we had 58 birders participating on 26 teams. The combined species count was a surprising 204, with 25 singles (by one team) and 9 doubles (by two teams). This put participation at the low end of the range relative to the last decade, but species count at the high end. In fact, the species count was second only to the 2011 record 209; or tied for second at 200 when only Region 5 is considered.
Jefferson and Lewis counties are still a bit of an unknown with respect to Birdathon, but details are beginning to come in. Gerry Smith had 131 species this year, and 127 last. Also Tony Shrimpton and Sue Adair did an exploratory big day in Jefferson County on Sunday, finding 111 species. Needless to say, the region has shown its ability to produce northern rarities. Some other birds of interest found there include Least Bittern, Sandhill Crane and Louisiana Waterthrush.
The top team for the year again was Archaeopteryx (Mickey Scilingo, Marty Mau & Chris Spagnoli) with 147 species. Crowding them for the honors was Greatness Thrushed Upon Us (Jason Mauro, Tom Meier, John Kresge & Drew Weber) who closed in at 143. In a repeat performance of last year, We See Gulls (Wayne Fidler, Mary Magistro, Mark Magistro & Michele Neligan) placed third at 140, while Wandering Ataloss (Brenda Best & Matt Voelker) held onto their fourth-place position with 127.
Also in an encore performance, the “Most Birds / Least Miles” award was taken by Dave Nash at 96 species. Dave has held this title for a long time, but Daniel Leete has been perfecting his route in Madison County, and may be challenging Dave’s supremacy soon. Then, with apologies, the occasional and ignoble honor for “Best New Team Name” was awarded to What the Hawk? (Carla Bregman, Jane Fagerland, Mark Bregman). And lastly, custody of the Clark(e)’s Nutcracker was passed on to Jeanne and Dave Ryan for the Best Bird, a Kentucky Warbler found in their back yard.
We are looking for ways to change and improve Birdathon, so comments and suggestions are welcome. What about changes to the picnic, different and new competition categories – big sit or one-town for example –, more awards of fewer, and if you would like to volunteer to solicit prizes from businesses and administer the awards that would be very welcome. Please reply to OAS.Birdathon@verizon.net with your suggestions.
Last but certainly not least, many thanks go out to everyone who fielded a team, and to everyone that either solicited funds or made a donation. Good birding!, and see you next year on May 16th. Save the date!
Traditionally, Birdathon has covered the six-county NYSOA Kingbird Region 5, including Onondaga, Oswego, Madison, Oneida, and Herkimer Counties, plus Cayuga County north of N.Y. Route 31. This year, the area was expanded to include Jefferson and Lewis Counties, which are now in the OAS service area. Competitive teams had to bird within the traditional Region 5 area, but recreational teams could bird anywhere within the new boundary.
Records to Beat
People: 43 teams, 116 members (1999)
Total Funds: $7,500 (2001)
Most Money for a team: $1422 (2011)
Most Species Combined: 209 (2011)
Most Species for a team:158 (2012)
For more information:
Ken or Rose Burdick 315-685-5571
Mail: Birdathon, c/o Ken Burdick
5 East Lake Street
Skaneateles, NY 13152-1304