The Big Sit! 2007 Statistics

These statistics reflect information submitted by reporting circles. As teams continue to report their Big Sit! results, the statistics on this page will change to reflect up-to-the-minute information.

Team Information: Enderis Park Bird Watchers

Captain: Joseph Devereaux
Location: Sheboyban, Wisconsin (United States)

Team Checklist

  1. Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
  2. Canada Goose Branta canadensis
  3. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
  4. Sora Porzana carolina
  5. Sandhill Crane Antigone canadensis
  6. Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
  7. Herring Gull Larus argentatus
  8. Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
  9. Barred Owl Strix varia
  10. Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon
  11. Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
  12. Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
  13. Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
  14. Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
  15. American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
  16. Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
  17. White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
  18. Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris
  19. Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
  20. European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  21. Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata
  22. Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus
  23. Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
  24. Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
  25. Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
  26. Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

Team Notes

Participants: Joseph Devereaux, Tammy Bokern, Julie Ristow, Frank Dolence, Clayton Ristow

Weather: Rainy, cool

Location: Sheboygan, WI

Time At Location: 11 hours - 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Notes:
The 17-Foot School Joseph E. Devereaux, Enderis Park Bird Watching Club What could be more fun than watching birds for 11 hours? The answer is; standing on slick treated wood boardwalk, in a rainy, cold and windy marsh for 11 hours, watching (for) birds. I began my vigil in the pre-dawn light at the Black River Marsh located in Terry Kohler-Andrae State Park, Sheboygan, WI. As a part of a world-wide (13th annual) “Big Sit” event, (joint sponsored by Bird Watcher’s Digest magazine and New Haven (CT) Bird Club), the Enderis Park Bird Watching Club drew its 17 foot circle and sat down for the day. I drove 55 miles up highway 43 north from Milwaukee, WI in my 1999 white Dodge Dakota loaded with what I figured to be “the essentials” to last the entire day. I had packed the small gas grill for the noon picnic lunch, the cushions from our old lawn furniture to provide creature comforts while sitting on the boardwalk, camcorder, digital camera, tripod, small step ladder to look over the tall cattails at the Black River beyond, clipboard loaded with the names of the birds I was “likely” to see at the Park, large fiberglass tarp, field guides, binoculars, jar of Cajun-mix peanuts and a thermos full of coffee. The way the weather ultimately treated me (and the small contingent of loyal EPBWC members that visited that day) I was eternally grateful (and lucky) to have the hot coffee my wife prepared and the jar of Cajun-mix as my only sustenance for the long day of monitoring. The moment I dragged the first load of essential equipment from the truck to the end of the walk at 6:50 AM, I startled a Great Blue Heron and around 10 Mallards from the surface of the river. Fantastic! I thought what a good start to the list. I quietly set down my supplies and took a breather. The raucous rattle sound of Sandhill Cranes rose above the water and through the cattails accompanied by the duet “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?” of a pair of Barred Owls. “Better and better by the minute”, I remarked to no one. I picked up the clipboard and recorded the time for the 4 species and began setting up for the day. I snapped a quick timer-assisted digital photo of myself in our “circle” and recorded a snippet of video in which I outlined the purpose of the day’s Big Sit. By the time I had unscrewed the cap on the old aluminum thermos bottle for a sip of java, a stealthy little Marsh Wren began to wiggle and climb through the reeds at the end of the boardwalk. It was much too close for my 12X50 Bushnells so I just watched it (bare-eyed) enjoying its movements and occasional chitterings as it performed its early morning routine. The wind was non-existent and the air was cool but dry at 7:00 AM, so I unbagged and set up my canvas (soccer mom) lounge chair at the far reaches of the 17 foot circle just in case I needed a rest. The constant roar of the waves breaking on the shore of this section of Lake Michigan was audible as a white noise above the tall trees to the east. Red-winged Blackbirds by the score were tuning up for the morning with repeated calls of “konklaree!” along with a variety of whistles and popping noises. They seemed to all take off at once from their beds of cattails, taking to the air in large groups, flying southwest toward the woods beyond the marsh. By 7:20 AM they were mostly gone. The next spectacular sight were the hundreds of Ring-billed and Herring gulls that came from the shores of Lake Michigan to the east, flying high overhead, also to the southwest. The gray backdrop of clouds and early morning light filtering through it provided a nice contrast to the gulls as they silently winged away from the big lake to points unknown. Up to this point in my birding-life I had not participated in a similar event. Sure I had done the CBC (Christmas Bird Count) and participated in feeder-watch activities, but had yet to take on an entire day in one small spot. I had no way of knowing what the day would present, or what discoveries would be made. I was just “here” and glad to be so. Black-capped Chickadees, Blue Jays, and American Crows would present themselves within range of my binoculars, singing (and croaking) their signature phrases. A Belted Kingfisher circled the marsh, clattering and clattering before settling down on a far-off standing deadfall that overlooked the river. Before the day was over I saw the kingfisher 3 separate times perform the same routine, several hours apart. Through my binoculars I could see its large beak and fluffy head in profile as it scanned the surface of the water for a meal. At 8:45 AM I climbed a few steps on the ladder to scan the river to the north. As I was looking along the west edge created by cattails I was treated to a small and secretive Sora quietly sneaking in and out of the reeds in search of a snack. What a treat to see! Song and Vesper Sparrows were singing and chirping in the marsh within binocular reach of my 17 foot world, as well as swift-flying Mourning Doves. Who knew that Downy and Hairy woodpeckers could be so noisy? When the rain began to fall steadily at 11:30 AM a Downy landed sideways grasping on a cattail next to the boardwalk. The slick shaft of the reed caused the woodpecker to slide down, down, down as I watched, like a kid climbing a greased pole. Four Brown-headed Cowbirds sat in a tree to the west, making a squeaking, squealing sound amongst themselves before flying off. Of course the rain had to intensify around noon, just prior to my first official visitor of the day. Tammy Bokern, EPBWC’s secretary walked up the soggy boardwalk with her supplies in tow and a smile on her face. By that time I covered the one small wooden bench on the walk with the tarp I had brought. I had shoved all my gear under it and offered the remaining space to her. We quickly decided to stow almost all of it back in her vehicle, as it could not possible all fit under the bench and stay dry. She presented me with a gift-beer bottle from her husband Bill’s freshly made supply. I put the beer in a special place of honor for later and apologized for the second time for the weather. I also explained that aside from a White-breasted nuthatch around 11:45 AM it was fairly quiet in the circle. She told me to think nothing of it as she was simply glad to be out here. I accepted her statement and offered to take her on a birding “tour” of the parking lot. I had seen several interesting birds as I walked back and forth from my vehicle to the circle, so I was sure they were still around. The Big Sit rules state that only birds viewed from the actual 17-foot circle can be counted in the day’s species count. With the rain, and foggy lenses I was dealing with I could not make out anything to the east of the boardwalk near the lot, but I still wanted to get a gook look at what was buzzing around. By the end of our “detour” walk, Tammy had picked up five new life-birds; Brown Creeper, White-crowned Sparrow, Swainson’s thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Song Sparrow. Too bad we could not count those birds. We also saw American Robins, from the lot, but could not see them from the circle. I turned on the Green Bay Packer game on a small battery-powered radio around 12:30 PM to see what I was missing. The Packers were in Green Bay playing the Washington Redskins, so I knew that the weather was not much better there than the 50 or so miles south, where I was located. I was right, as the score was 14-7 Washington. I turned it off almost immediately and went back on alert. Tammy was a good sport listening, watching, and wiping the rain from her binoculars and nose until around 2:30 PM when the next visitors arrived. Julie Ristow, Julie’s aunt, son Clayton and member Frank Dolence drove up to the lot as I was walking Tammy to her car. After an abbreviated greeting and parting, Tammy was on her way back to Wauwatosa with the heat on high, and 5 new birds to her credit. Julie and her group toured the imaginary circle and stood talking about (guess what) birds, for about a 45 minutes before they had to be on their way. I thanked them for their rain-shortened visitation efforts and walked them back to their vehicle. I was determined to stay (al least) until the sun (ha, what sun?) set for the day, so I slogged my way back down the boardwalk in my rubber pants for the grand finale. The temperature had dropped to the point of seeing my breath. I turned on the radio again in time to catch the last 10 minutes of the Packers-Redskins. Some how Green Bay pulled off a victory (17-14) with great defense so I celebrated by popping the top on Bill’s beer. The count was sitting at 24 and the daylight was waning. Suddenly, a small bird landed a few feet away. A tiny Ruby-crowned Kinglet flitted around the boardwalk “circle” for about a minute. Yes, 25! The rain teased me with a few periods of cessation. I took the raincoat off, dried the binoculars off and took another mouthful of peanuts and a swig of coffee before it started up again. The Blue Jays kept me company in the tops of the trees in the western woods until I began to notice something flying erratically on the far bank of the river. It would zip into the cattails, zoom down to the lily pads on the surface of the river, and then repeat the cycle. I quickly dried the lenses of my binoculars enough to see what it was; a Yellow-rumped Warbler (or “butter-butt”) as my birding friends had taught me. The little bird actually landed for seconds at a time directly on the lily pads before silently flying off to another spot searching for insects. This one was an “Audubon’s” variety, as it had a bright yellow throat and on the top of its head, a bright yellow spot, to add to the yellow that is exposed on its lower back between its wings (or “butt”). This diminutive and colorful flyer spent about a half-hour in my view. I enjoyed watching its antics, which were serious eating techniques in its bird world. That treat made my count (which would turn out to be final) 26 species for the day. One more special thing occurred before I packed it up for the day. At around 5:10 PM I began to see flocks of birds approaching from the southwest. I trained the binoculars on one suck flock to see that it was full of Red-winged Blackbirds. I stood there in awe as sortie after sortie of between 5 and 40 birds returned, flying overhead and landing in the cattails of the marsh. One such group came so close to me on its rendezvous with the marsh that I heard the whoooosh of their 20-30 pairs of wings past my head. By the hundreds they came. Each group had a specific area of the marsh that must be home to it as they scattered in every corner of my view. The songs and chattering, whistles and calls began again as before and the sound grew to rival that of the pounding Lake Michigan surf. Just when I was feeling privileged and blessed, I heard the familiar sound once again of the Sandhill Cranes. It seemed as though the whole day had slowly reversed itself and all was as it should be. I had been to school for the day, and now it was time to go home.


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