Birding is a funny thing. You get all sorts of odd juxtapositions of events, coincidences if you like, and rare birds seem to be especially prone to this. Many is the time that I have twitched a bird, only to find that the same species turns up nearer, easier to see, a better experience all-round. An example of this the first, accepted, Short-billed Dowitcher for the UK. Sandra and I traveled a long way into eastern Scotland for it, an overnight on the way up. After a few weeks it showed up just a couple of hours away from home, same bird, same little plumage quirks, yes I went to see it! Such is life.
Today I went to Pubnico to see a Prothonotary Warbler, not too long after driving to Halifax just over a week ago to see one. The Sandy Cove Road bird was great, confiding to a point and showy. Todays went to another level. The bird was closer by choice (its) and appeared brighter because the light was better and the experience was more intimate, even though it was shared other birders. Naturally I gave it some welly with the camera and the results were pretty pleasing.
Winding back a couple of days and I popped over to Johnny and Sandra’s house to see their latest avian guest, a Field Sparrow. Their place in the Lower Clark’s Harbour is well-placed for attracting the birds and during my short sit I got views and shots of the Field Sparrow and a couple of friendly Fox Sparrows. In the background, the long-staying Brown Thrasher “chupped” away deep in the brushy cover.
The now annual eBird big day takes place on May 13th. Last year I did 78 species on Cape Sable Island, a nicely tight geographical area and one that lends itself to such an event. I don’t think anyone can beat CSI in such a day bird race although Brier might give us a run, a Seal Island list for the same date would be interesting too, otherwise, as far as Nova Scotia is concerned, CSI rules OK. There, is that enough poking the Wasps nest to inspire birders in NS to get out and do a big day on the big day?
Seriously though, big days when recorded in eBird, that is with details and not just and x are important snapshots of the birds present on that given day. Obvious I know, and no doubt active birders will be out birding anyway but it is the concentrated effort that makes the thing worthwhile. For me it is another block of comparative data for CSI and, over time, you can look and see patterns, just as you can if you have eBird data going back a few years, you can almost know what will be there, have a pretty good ide of what might be there and, with the right conditions, have an inkling that there is potential to produce the unexpected, because let us all be honest here, the unexpected is the dessert we all look forwards too.
I will be participating, obviously, and it will be the only date in the year where I use the Cape Sable Island hotspot in eBird. It would be nice if a few more sites put in a big day list.