Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Cold Competition

On the morning of the Superbowl of Birding, we rose early in order to be at our first stop by the 5 am starting time. As we were driving to our starting point in the rental van, we passed by a sign giving the time and temperature. The sign showed the temperature as 3°F. Combined with a modest wind, this made for a frigid start to our birding.

We arrived at our first stop just a few minutes before 5 am. Once the clock read 5:00, we jumped out of the van and started looking for birds. Scanning the waterfowl sleeping on a small pond, we quickly located our target species, American Coot, and recorded a few other species like Hooded Merganser as well. Over the next two hours, we listened for owls at several locations while Nate and Corey did their best owl vocalizations to try to draw responses. We heard an Eastern Screech Owl respond at one location but missed Barred, Great Horned, and any other owl species. During this time the moon shone brightly and appeared especially large as it sank towards the horizon.

As the sky lightened, we headed towards Nahant to start the diurnal portion of the competition. Along its coastline, we tallied many waterbird species such as Common Loon and Red-necked Grebe. Unfortunately we missed a five-point bird, a Northern Shoveler, in one of the coves. We searched two spots for songbirds. The first, known as the "stump dump" was bereft of birds. At the second, the Audubon "thicket," we heard a Carolina Wren singing as soon as we exited the van but somehow missed a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (another five-point bird) tallied by a different team five minutes later.

With the early portion of our route completed, we headed towards Gloucester.

(to be continued)