On the 13th of May, team T-Bird went for our second year of participating in the Jamestown Audubon Birdathon (against other friends like Jen). Last year we were able to located 110 species within a 24 hour period and our goal this year was reaching just as many . . . . if not more birds than last year. Would we do it??
We started early in the morning along the Allegheny River and was finding birdies fast! It was extra foggy so we focused our energy climbing the top of the hills for our higher elevation species like the Cerulean Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler and Yellow-throated Vireo. We were doing awesome and by 9am and had already located 69 species of birds! Yes the first 69 species came to us easily but this is the point when we need to work harder to add any more species to our list!
We spent late morning along the side of the river looking for the Kentucky Warbler (which we didn’t find) but was able to add a few species like the American Woodcock, Bank Swallow and Belted Kingfisher.
Heading out to another area along the Allegheny River we pass through some farm fields! We added species like the Bobolink, Turkey Vulture and Field Sparrow. We tried hard but was not successful in finding any Meadowlarks or Savannah Sparrows in those fields (although we possibly could have seen a Savannah but didn’t see it well enough to count it). Along the second part of the Allegheny we were able to add Great Blue Heron, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. It was noon and finally time to eat lunch ( we were now at 90 species)!
After lunch we headed down to the Wolf Run area of Allegany State Park and spent 2+ hours hiking the whole Wolf Run road. In those 2 hours we only added the Olive-sided Flycatcher to the list and was the first bird we saw as we got out of our vehicle (figures)! The next few stops helped add some species like the Red-breasted Nuthatch, Acadian Flycatcher and Double-crested Cormorant. We searched the France Brook area for the Louisiana Waterthrush but we just couldn’t find any of these guys singing! 😦
Red House Lake was very productive and we quickly added a Ruddy Duck, Chimney Swift and Pine Warbler to our checklist! It was 5pm and we were currently at 97 species!! We headed down into the swamp area in search for some migrants. Along the roadside we heard the calling of the kill deer kill deer making the Killdeer number 98. Suddenly we flushed another shorebird up! Solitary Sandpiper became species number 99! We wondered around for another 2 hours before hearing the “wheeeep”, “wheeep” of the Great-crested Flycatcher! It was almost 8pm and we could finally say that we found 100 species for the count! Yeah . . . both of us were starving since we skipped dinner for the birds!!
With 13 hours of non-stop birding we located 100 species within a 24 hour period. I had 11 species that were first of the year birds for me (Scarlet Tanager, Veery, Cerulean Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Bank Swallow, Bobolink, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher, Solitary Sandpiper and Great-crested Flycatcher). We also located 18 species of Warblers and 3 species of Vireo. We found that the birds we located for the birdathon were mainly local breeders and were missing many of the commonly found migrants that would be around this time of the year. We also had many expected locals that we were unable to locate like the Louisiana Waterthrush, both Cuckoos and many raptor species. If we had perfect migrant winds and these other commonly found locals located . . . . without a doubt we would have located over our last years 110 species!! We still had a great time with the birds that we ended up finding!
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