The Big Sit! 2008 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: EPBWC City-Sitters

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

Team Checklist

  1. Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
  2. Canada Goose Branta canadensis
  3. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
  4. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
  5. Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
  6. Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
  7. Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor
  8. Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon
  9. Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
  10. Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
  11. Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus
  12. Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
  13. Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
  14. American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
  15. Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
  16. Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
  17. American Robin Turdus migratorius
  18. Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
  19. European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  20. Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
  21. Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
  22. White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
  23. White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
  24. Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
  25. House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus
  26. American Goldfinch Spinus tristis
  27. Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
  28. Killdeer Charadrius vociferus

Team Notes

Participants: Joe Devereaux-Nola Devereaux-Julie Ristow

Weather: 78 degrees and beautiful!

Location: Havenwoods State Forest - Milwaukee, WI

Time At Location: 12 hours (6:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Notes:
Appreciating all things avian was the goal of the day. It was still dark as I pulled the white Dodge Dakota pickup into one of the parking spaces in the lot at Havenwoods State Forest. The air was crisp and moist on this autumn Sunday, October 12, 2008. I loaded up the wheeled folding wire cart with all the equipment I felt I would need for the day. Muffled strains of distant traffic noise could be heard along with the chirruping of crickets as I slowly dragged it to the paved road to the north of the building. The road abruptly ended about 1000 yards from the lot and I was forced to double back slightly to locate the dimly lit mown grass path. Two large rocks had been rolled in place just off the pavement to adequately discourage motorists from attempting egress. It was here that I left the hard navigable surface for the uneven footpath into the woods. Walking slowly through the wet grass as to not stumble or dump my load, I moved deeper into the forest quietly slipping through the ground fog. I was heading for a place I had scoped out a few weeks back where I imagined I would have a variety of habitats in which to scan. As I neared the rust-colored metal arching bridge over Lincoln Creek, I glanced to my left and stopped in my tracks. Through the dim moonlight on the surface of the small ½ acre pond lying 200 yards away and below the trail where I stood, floated hundreds of dark shapes. I was mesmerized. What were they and should I just stop here? Because I was the only one who was likely to participate in this particular Big Sit today, I made an executive decision to create my virtual 17 foot circle right here, forsaking the area I had imagined myself inhabiting for the day. I pulled the cart off the trail towards the treated wood Boy Scout Eagle project bench that was thoughtfully positioned overlooking the water and waited. Carefully removing the contents of the cart, I unpacked a few things in order to get to my Bushnells. As I raised them to my eyes and turned to the shapes on the silvery pond, I was startled by a noise behind me. Hhhphhhhh…Hhhphhhhh! arose from the direction of the bridge abutment on my side of the creek bed. I froze. Hhhphhhhh…. Hhhphhhhh! the sound repeated itself. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as I turned to face the bridge. Hhhphhhhh…Hhhphhhhh! The only thing that helped me stand my ground and not bolt from the area was a memory from my days as a deer hunter raising the possibility that a Whitetail may be just below the ridge and had caught my scent. I chuckled to myself wondering what I may have done had I not considered this possibility as I walked though the darkness to the bridge to investigate, hoping I was right. Now, having viewed more than my share of slasher movies while practically screaming at the screen for the lead character to not go into the darkened room, I vaguely wondered why I has not taking my own advice. Perhaps the slight crackling noise of my approach on the gravel near the start of the bridge may have spooked whatever was previously making the sound, as I heard nothing further, nor did I see anything as I peered into the gloom. I turned around and walked back to my bench to await the glow of the impending sunrise. The surrounding woods smelled damp with dew and tendrils of white mist hung mere inches above the fallen leaves. I sat as high as possible on the back edge of the bench with my feet on the seat. Having dressed for the day in olive drab and brown layers I was insulated against the morning’s coolness, and prepared to remove clothing as necessary throughout my 12-hour stint. Perched as I was on 2” of treated pine, Bushnells in hand staring out at the pond, I reached beside me to turn on my .mp3 recording device. If there were bird sounds to be heard, I would capture them for reference later. I sat virtually motionless about 25 minutes watching and listening to the geese on the pond occasionally honk their disapproval at small incoming sorties of visitors. With my backside needing a break from the lumber massage it had been subjected to, I quietly climbed down to stretch. The light from the rising sun cast an orange glow to the distant trees as the world around me brightened ever so slightly. I snapped a few photos of the pond and surrounding scenery catching a glimpse of a Great Blue heron standing stoically amongst the feathered throng that floated nearby it. Small ducks were dipping their heads under water and paddling around like small service boats in a marina. The crickets continued their background soundtrack as I celebrated the growing lightness of the forest. A muskrat dog-paddled its way back and forth to its subterranean home shuttling mouthfuls of succulent reeds while green and bull frogs jumped into the water from the bank. Without warning another group of geese decided that the pond looked inviting and flew in for a quick dip. The honking from the gathered started slow and steady but grew in intensity until suddenly the entire 500 or so Canada geese decided to take flight as a group. The noise was deafening as they all vocalized and flapped their wings defeating the gravity that held them on the water’s surface and took to the sky, their cacophony fading slowly away to the southwest, as I stood there with my mouth open in awe of the sheer spectacle I had witnessed. “Wow, one in a million,” I said out loud to no one. The ducks hadn’t left but were visibly disturbed and milled around reorganizing their ranks. About two dozen geese (the new comers more than likely) remained in the water honking as if to critique the mass takeoff, and through the pandemonium the Heron had stood unmoving, seemingly unfazed, providing for me a new definition of the word “composure.” Their departure seemed to wake up the balance of the songbirds in the immediate area as they could now be heard warming up their individual parts of the fall dawn chorus to come. Pulling out the drab green soccer-mom chair from its matching nylon condom, I set it up facing the opposite direction from the wooden bench. Finally unscrewing the cover on the blue thermos bottle and pouring myself the first cup of the day, I smiled and picked up my notebook to log in the avian species that had already been a part of my 2008 Bird Watcher’s Digest Big Sit experience. After making one entire slow clockwise tour of the pond’s shallow reedy edge, eating whatever it could spear, agitate, or impale, it waded to the southwest section of the pond near the edge. With two spotting scopes trained on the heron, it stood, sat, dozed, stood, sat, dozed, and preened endlessly for 8 hours within 3 feet of the same pile of rocks. Mallards would occasionally swim up next to it resting on one orange leg, as if to keep it company for a while. This was a definite bonus having it in constant view for the entire day, especially during the doldrums of midday bird watching drought. I alternated chairs, ate a bagel with cream cheese and apple my wife had packed, took photos, logged the occasional species, and even popped open a tin of smoked oysters to celebrate a flock of Eastern Bluebirds that buzzed and chirped around me, before settling down on the steel of the bridge railing. Wife Nola packed-in a lunch of a Subway sub sandwich, chips and a Diet Pepsi around 2:00 PM and EPBWC Treasurer, Julie Ristow joined us shortly after I began eating. (Notice: All shameless product endorsements have been uncompensated for the purposes of inclusion) The two of them watched with me for the afternoon and enjoyed the nearly 80-degree unseasonable weather, reminding me of the cold-wet sit we had endured the year before in Sheboygan. 28 species logged and 12 hours later, I packed up the truck for the return trip, feeling relaxed, happy and grateful for the opportunity to be in nature among its incredible beauty and wonder. Did we (EPBWC) win anything with our 28 bird species sighted? - Nope, but the rewards are endless...

Anecdotes:
Did we (EPBWC) win anything with our 28 bird species sighted? - Nope, but the rewards are endless...


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