Well, the 5th annual Big Sit! of 2016 will go down in the record books, not for the fantastic number of species, but for the most awful weather conditions for birding, ever. Earlier in the week, we were looking forward to a decent Big Sit! day with a slight chance of showers, but it turned out to be almost constant wind-driven rain and drizzle all day long.
Considering the conditions, I think we were fortunate to tally 42 species, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the sharp eyes (under those umbrellas and rain coats) of co-leader Jay Stormer, Carol Jack, Ted Allen, Kathy Claerr and Jack Collins. Stella Walsh also stopped by to offer encouragement and cookies.
In spite of the unfortunate weather conditions, several birds were seen for the first time, included a juvenile white morph Snow Goose (a rather tame goose that’s been around for 5 days, hanging out around the boat launch or nearby), a Northern Mockingbird and Eastern Phoebe spotted by Kathy Claerr, and a Blackpoll Warbler. Incidentally, the Snow Goose is just the second eBird sighting of this species ever at Wharton Point, the previous sighting having occurred many years ago in 1975.
Earlier in the day, several of the Big Sit! participants remarked about passing by a large group of wild turkeys along Maquoit Road. But houses and trees prevented us from viewing the turkeys from the Big Sit! circle. At the end of the day as Jack Collins was pulling out onto Maquoit Road to go home, he looked over in the marsh and spotted the turkey flock there. However, they were still not visible from the Big Sit! circle, but with Jack encouraging the turkeys with waving arms to walk in the correct direction (you know how the baseball player waves his arms over his head from side to side to encourage a fly ball hit down the line to stay in fair territory), the turkeys proceeded to parade one-by-one through the marsh, all 24 of them visible from the Big Sit! circle. It was a great way to end an otherwise dreary day.
Looking forward to a dry day next year, Gordon Smith