Seventy people took part on thirty-one Birdathon teams this May for the 59th annual OAS Big Day event. Held relatively late in the month this year, on the twentieth, many migrants had already passed through. Several teams noted difficult in finding warblers. The Syracuse area had experienced a long period of blocking North winds in May, with relief coming on Thursday the 18th. That night, rain showers caused a small fallout of late-migrant warblers, notably Blackpoll and Tennessee, which was followed by favorable conditions for migration on Friday night. The net result was slightly below expectations for the total number of species found both by the top team and by the group as a whole.
The Scope Creepers (Drew Weber, Jay McGowan, Andrew Spencer and Tayler Brooks) took top honors with 151 species. This was the fifth-best showing ever, seven below the all-time high of 158. Within the traditional Region 5 area, this was the fourth-best ever. The Uncommon Mergs (Matt Voelker, Brenda Best and Dennis Anderson) moved up smartly in the standings to take second place at 144, while the Archaeopteryx team of Mickey Scilingo and Chris Spagnoli placed a close third at 142. The 197 species for the group as a whole tied with last year, well off the record of 209 set in 2011.
The award for “Best Bird” was claimed by Judy Thurber for her fly-by Whimbrel. This species has only been reported once before on Birdathon by Joe Brin in 2009. For low-carbon lists, Dave Nash took honors for “Most Birds / Least Miles” – 96 birds at Clay Marsh and Onondaga Lake, while Kyle Buelow won the new low-carbon category of “Best Yard List” with 48 species on his property. This new category is for birders who restrict their list to private property of up to 160 acres that includes their residence of some description, whether it be a mansion, a camp or a pop-up trailer. The area in play for “Most Birds / Least Miles”, by comparison, is not limited as to ownership or size. Closing out the list, new participants Alex and Angela Thor walked away with “Best(?) Team Name” for their apt choice of Thor Feat.
Singles and Doubles
There were fifteen species found by only one team, and eleven found by just two teams. For the traditional Region 5 area there were twelve of each. These numbers are low by historical standards. Other notable singles, in view of where they were found, included Red-necked Grebe, Sandhill Crane, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Philadelphia Vireo.
Don’t forget to save the date for next year! – May 19th.