Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 RBG Bird-a-Thon Wrap Up

By Andrew Rothman, founder of Rainforest Biodiversity Group:

The 9th was a bit chilly, and when we started at 6 am the chill was accompanied by rain and high winds. Not good birding conditions. Luckily by 6:30 the rain had stopped and the wind had died down and Bill Volkert of the WI- DNR , Holly Robertson (president of RBG) and I were able to get up a few mist nets as part of the 12th Annual Horicon Marsh Bird Festival.

Although I love the opportunity to get some banding in, it actually hindered my ability to increase the number of birds on my list for the day. However, I was happy to walk away with a list of 80 species for the day. Some of the morning highlights included us catching a least flycatcher, a northern waterthrush, a few nashville warblers, a number of catbirds, a couple handfuls of yellow warblers, and as our friend Craig Thompson might say, more yellow-warblers and palm warblers than you could shake a stick at. Each time Holly and I returned to the nests to extract we'd say "holy crap" as we began to take out the 20 or so yellow-rumped warblers, and dozen or so palm warblers we had caught in just two nets!

The overcast weather actually kept the birds hopping for much of the day, however I was caught teaching a beginning birder class for two hours in the early afternoon as well. I dont think I added any new species for the day during the begining birder walk but we did get good chances to help our beginning birders see the difference between tree swallows, northern rough-wing swallows and barn swallows.

As soon as I got done with the class and finally got some food in me, it was off to the races (literally a race before sundown) to get as many birds as I could. Luckily I hadnt seen many ducks species yet, and here I was at Horicon Marsh. I knew I could get my numbers up. We hit some Horicon hot spots and quickly began to rack up our duck species, including large numbers of ruddy ducks, and fair number of redheads. We also had great looks at american bittern and black-crowned night heron.

As we drove up the eastern side of the marsh, we picked up northern harrier, a big group of turkeys, and bobolink. We crossed the north end of marsh, and picked up more ducks including ring-neck duck, and shovler. As night fell and we headed into the prison town of Waupun to get pizza at the Pizza Barn we picked up our last bird species, my 80th of the day. A sharp-shinned hawk flew right in front of us, hopefully after picking off a house sparrow or two from the feeders at the nearby houses.

Although not as productive as year's past it was great to get back to Horicon, and have some weather that didnt make me sweat. It also gave me a chance to reflect on and appreciate the birds of WI that I normally dont get to see down here in the rainforest. For instance the ducks, I left with a much greater appreciation for how cool ducks are. Additionally, it might be hard to believe, but I think I actually missed the constant honking of the Canada geese.

Thanks again for helping out with the Bird-A-thon. Checks can be made out to Rainforest Biodiversity Group and sent to 7 N. Pinckney St, Suite 220, Madison, WI 53703. Also make sure you SEND ME YOUR T-SHIRT SIZE, if you donated more than $50. Once I have that we can get the shirts made, and get them into the mail to you. That means I need your address as well.

Thanks for the support!

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