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Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Big Year at the World Series of Birding

American Oystercatcher on a nest!

This was a big year for the World Series of Birding and for the North Branch Nature Center.  In this 30th year of the competition, some young-adults celebrated their tenth year of participation while a group of young birders participated for the first time.  This cross-generational composition of NBNC’s two teams was not unique.  Countless others who have participated in the competition for decades were in attendance, many of them who started as youths and are now pursuing careers in ornithology.  Many of those who “grew up” participating in the World Series are now mentoring today’s youth teams.

An impromptu talk on shorebird banding
So what is the World Series of Birding, anyway?  Started by Pete Dunne of the Cape May Bird Observatory, the World Series is a 24-hour competition in which teams fan out across New Jersey in an attempt to find as many species of birds as possible.  The NBNC’s two teams each competed in different “leagues”… the young-adult team, “The Chocolate-headed Cowbirds (with sprinkles),” competed for the Cape May County Cup while the youth team, “The North Branch Noddies,” competed in the youth challenge.  Both teams tallied over 100 species in 24 hours despite some challenging conditions!

A rainy night meant
more frogs than birds!
Every year is different, and this year brought rain.  Lots of rain spread out across the day.  It rained from 12:45 a.m. – 3:30 a.m., thwarting most of the adult team’s nocturnal birding efforts.  They could have done well to sleep in, as the youth team did, and start their birding day at 3:30 a.m.!  But just in time for the dawn chorus, the rain abated and the birds started singing.  The day continued in this fashion until dusk, with pauses in between showers that were just long enough to dry off before getting soaked again.

A break in the clouds for sunset
Against all odds, the total number of species seen was only slightly below our average, with 113 species seen by the youth team and 139 by the adult team.  Highlights included King Rails calling at our campsite (you could hear them from your sleeping bag!), Parasitic Jaegers flying around just off the coast, 22 species of warblers, and a few lucky team members who heard Black Rail (one of the most elusive and hard-to-find birds) singing from a salt marsh.  

Every year is memorable, and this year was no exception.  As our young-adult birders continue fostering their passion and sharing it with a new cohort of young birders, the long-standing tradition of the World Series continues and has a very promising future with a new generation of birders who will treasure our feathered friends and do everything they can to protect them.

Our two teams (including coaches & drivers)
The North Branch Noddies (left) and the Chocolate-headed Cowbirds with sprinkles (right)

Click to see our full checklist from the trip.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on a day well spent in the field! It's terrific to have our VT friends enjoying our NJ birds (and frogs).

    Marleen Murgitroyde