Final Tally: Our Little Big Day
I admit to getting a bit crazed as the day wound down to dusk and our total hovered still within striking distance of 100. This was just after we had a late flurry of birds--from about 6:30 until 7:15--during which we added 10 new species. But a rainstorm, hungry bellies, tired kids, dropping temperatures, and unavoidable darkness won. So we opted for Mexican food (gracias, Las Trancas!) instead of a Quixote-like bit of tilting at birding windmills.
Here's a bit of Big Day wisdom: no bird is less findable late in a Big Day than a kestrel. I will not elaborate--it's simply a universal truth of Big Day birding.
So we ended with 96--respectable for this part of Ohio, especially since we ate all our meals indoors, attended a kids' birthday swimming party, participated in a girls softball game, painted chickadee nestlings, checked the bluebird trail, and blogged during the day.
In the afternoon, we spent hours longer than we should have crawling our way down the dusty gravel roads along the runs (what we call creeks or cricks in these here parts) that wind and burble toward the Ohio River. From County Road 12, we took Cow Run, then Newell's Run all the way to the river. I believe we set a world record for singing American redstarts, and we had lots of cerulean warblers, too. Many lovely patches of wildflowers and great pools of water perfect for tossing rocks into. I had an intense flashback, watching my kids leap out of the car to get to the water in the run where they could explore, throw rocks, look for fish. This is exactly what my brother Andy and I did, on these same runs, 30 years ago when Mom was afield with the local bird watching group. But before long, I was more interested in the birds than in throwing rocks....
So I made sure that Phoebe had some good binocs around her neck, and I got her to the scope as often as possible for good looks at birds. She enjoyed keeping her own checklist (of every bird we heard, saw, or mentioned). Liam is still completely immersed in the rock-throwing phase (which I have to admit, is still really fun for me, too).
Although it was International Migratory Bird Day, most of the really great birds we spent time with today were not Neotropical migrants. They were our local, resident breeders--red-headed woodpecker, eastern bluebird, a fledgling northern cardinal, Carolina wrens, eastern phoebes.
In fact, if we'd HAD a few more migrants, 100 would have been no problem. My guess is that the next warm, sunny morning we have will be amazingly birdy.
I am happy about our little Big Day. It was way fun. Here is some additional photographic evidence.