It's almost here, the biggest week in American birding! Migrant songbirds have been flooding into the region, birders will be descending into the state to find them, and I will be spending a week searching out the most reliable places to locate dozens of different species. It's going to be awesome!
Yes, this afternoon I'll be heading east on I-86 to . . . what's that? Ohio is west of New York? Right, I'm not that geographically challenged.
Anyway, I'll be heading east . . . what? No, I don't mean west, that'd take me out on to Pennsyltucky. I'm heading to northern New Jersey.
Oh, I know there's a festival where everyone-who-is-anyone will be migrant watching, but I'll be at the original biggest week, that granddaddy of competitive birding: that week-long run up to the World Series of Birding in New Jersey.
I won't be blogging, possibly I'll throw a tweet out now and again, or maybe a facebook update. I will be out at all hours noting any newly-arrived songbirds, pinpointing territories of breeders, staking out any lingering winter birds, searching for raptor nests, listening for what may be lurking in various wetlands, chasing a vagrant or two . . . a little bit of everything.
I've done this before, but this year already feels like a whole new ball game. The "Big Day" is late (mid-May!) and spring came early this year (not astronomically, but ornithologically). Usually we're scrambling to find the newly-arrived warblers, hoping the Canada Warbler is back on its territory before Saturday, hoping the Tennessee, Bay-breasted, and Blackpoll Warblers (the harbingers of "the end of spring migration") will have reached this far north. This year, they're already there! Leaves are out, Blue-headed Vireos have already quieted down, replaced by their ubiquitous Red-eyed brethren.
It's not all fun-and-games, sleep-deprivation, and supplementing our year lists. You can read how we use the competition to fund conservation work (and meet the team, hear additional stories, and more) at the Lab's web site.
Finally, you can follow my tweets (no promises, I may need those precious seconds for quick cat-like naps), as well as those from the Sapsuckers through the week and especially on the Big Day, which runs on Saturday, 15 May this year.
Wish us luck!
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