Sunday, May 09, 2010

Birdathon 2010: A summary

The 2010 Birdathon was held May 7-8th. The goal of the Birdathon is to raise money for local conservation organizations by seeing as many different species of birds from 5pm Friday to 5pm Saturday (24 hr period) in a pre-determined radius centered on the Oxbow in SE Indiana (Oxbow area). Pledges are solicited from friends and members, the more species seen collectively, the more money that is raised for the local conservation organizations. This year my team consisted of Dave Brinkman, Dr. Jon Seymour (President of Oxbow, Inc.), and myself. Although our team entered in as "non-competitive" this year, we still ended up with a good number of species I thought. For the first time in my Birdathon experience, we decided to camp at Miami Whitewater campground instead of sleeping in the car. I am glad that we did. Before setting out, we got word that there was a tornado watch in effect until early morning. We put the tent up before the 5pm start time while it wasn't raining. Good thing we did. It thunderstormed Friday night, so we stayed in the car until the lightning stopped. The winds were roaring loud all night, but I somehow managed to stay dry and get some sleep in.

And now on to the birds...Both Friday and Saturday, we went to the new Fernald Preserve in northern Hamilton Co. I have been wanting to go here for a while, but it is a drive for me. I really enjoyed this place. The place was a hopping, as I was able to see Dickcissels, Bobolinks, and hear Grasshopper Sparrows all in the same field. The small but very productive biowetlands held all kinds of good birds including shorebirds, Blue-winged Teal, and an American Pipit. I am glad to be able to have a place like this to see so many different species of birds in one place. I was thinking while there that this could be reproduced with only a little work just about anywhere there was open space to do so. It is a shame that it takes something like Fernald's history to guarantee quality bird habitat in SW Ohio, but that is the sad times we live in I guess. I am hoping to go back to this preserve soon.

Friday, we failed to relocate the reported Wilson's Phalarope at the Fernald Biowetlands. We ran into another team that had said they just seen it 15 minutes prior to our arrival. We searched again, still no phalarope. Dang, that would have been a life bird for me!

Lesser Yellowlegs at Fernald Preserve

Saturday we saw quite a few Wild Turkey, including some male toms displaying to hens.

Male tom turkey displaying at Miami Whitewater Forest

We got word that there was another Wilson's Phalarope at a place called lost bridge. I was really hoping to get this bird here, since I just missed it at Fernald. The first visit yielded a Dunlin, Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers and Spotted Sandpipers. But still no phalarope.

So we headed out to bird other locations in the area. We ran into another group who stated that they saw a shorebird they were unsure of at lost bridge, so we decided to return there to see if we could find the "odd" bird. Glad we did. Just as we were getting ready to leave the spot, Dave spotted the Wilson's Phalarope flying in fast from the left - life bird for me! It landed in front of us briefly, but then disappeared. Luckily, after a long while, we were able to relocate the bird. Got some good looks at it while it was feeding right in front of us!

Lifer Wilson's Phalarope at Lost Bridge in Hamilton Co. , OH

We also stopped by a place where Lark Sparrows had been seen. This would be another life bird for me. As we approached the area where they were supposed to be, Dave found one on the road in front of us. It fled quick, and I was only able to get a brief look at the head pattern and white outer tail feathers - dang!

At 5pm on Saturday, all the teams got together at Winton Woods for the final tally and pizza. It was nice to see so many birding friends that I haven't seen in a while, some in years. Each team discussed their best bird and best moment of the birdathon. Every year, I see more and more 18 years and under young birders at this event - love this! Kathy McDonald led the Queen City Birder's/Ohio Young Birder's Club team. They got first place in the under 19 years category with 95 species!

My team got 118 species and the winning team got somewhere around 147 total species. But everybody was a winner, raising money for conservation and having fun!


  1. ...great recap! One of these years I'm going to join a team. I love the Oxbow and support it as much as I can. Did Baumgardner's team win? I'll have to email him to find out. I usually support his team.

  2. It is a lot of fun! The team of Jay Stenger, Joe Bens, and Paul Wharton won. They got to keep the golden starling trophy. They always win ;-)

  3. Anonymous11:27 AM

    Congrats on the lifer!!! Your hard work and perseverance paid off. Sounds like you had a great time and for such a good cause! I would love to do birdathon but will have to see if we have such a thing here in Canada. I'll have to look into it.If not, could I join a team in the US? This is definitely something I would consider for next year. Thanks for sharing such a great motivating story!

  4. Paula, thanks on the lifer, birdathons are a lot of fun! I know that Bird Studies Canada has a birdathon called Baillie Birdathon

  5. Great post and pics..thanks for your support of young Birders. Your help last year at HUeston woods was appreciated. Good birding!

  6. The Wilson's is great! I've never seen one and would be tickled to have spotted it and shot it! Photographically, of course. It seems like at least SOMEBODY would have 'waded' in to tell you that the Lesser YL wasn't what you called it. I think you're right, but that's what always happens to me. I've taken to just calling every bird I see a Peregrine falcon. That covers me. :)