On Saturday, 25 April, the Payne County Audubon Society hosted its annual Big Day competition as part of our two-month effort in April and May to raise the operating funds we’ll use in the coming year. Ideally, teams of birders seek pledges from donors for each species identified, so $0.50/bird would amount to a $50 donation for a team that found 100 species.
There are three ways that an event like this can raise money: a small number of birders can raise a lot of money, a large number can raise a little, or a large number can raise a lot. Historically, our Birdathon involved a small number of people who raised a lot of money, but that’s getting harder to do with each passing year. I have been trying to get more people involved so that we can make up the difference with a large number of teams competing, with each one raising a little bit of money. I’d love to be working toward the “large number gets big money” but progress is slow. For now, I’m delighted that we had a bunch of people in the field all day on Saturday, when I’m sure they had other things they could have and maybe should have been doing. If you’re impressed with the effort reported here, please feel free to show your support here. ANY amount is appreciated!
Here’s how the day went, at least for my team . . .
From the gorgeous subtle beauty of the Milky Way before dawn to the warm long shadows of the setting sun at dusk, 14 teams enjoyed a glorious day in Payne County for the 2015 Big Day. My hat is off to the students who invested so much of their precious weekend time in what was for them an optional, self-directed, marathon field trip.
I am so proud of all the students and others who participated in the 2015 Audubon Big Day! Congrats to Maycee Goza (and her canine pal, Gemma) who won in the non-motorized category with 32 species, and to team Macawsome (Kelly Boyer, Eric Duell, Emily Sinnott, Talia Branham, and Lisa Elizondo) as the overall winners with an amazing 125 species on the day! The award for best team name went to the Inglorious Bustards (David O’Dell, Abby Randle, Zac Hemans, and Evan Flanagan). Needless to say, a fun time was had by all, and I doubt the students will ever forget it.
Here is a list of the 107 species we found on team Steve. We weren’t Macawsome, but we had a good day nonetheless:
Great Blue Heron
Upland Sandpiper – flyover before the team was fully assembled so it didn’t make our official list.
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
Great Horned Owl
Pileated Woodpecker – apparently nesting in the Lewis’s Woodpecker tree at Lake Carl Blackwell.
Great Crested Flycatcher
Loggerhead Shrike – Teal Ridge!
Louisiana Waterthrush – the pinnacle of avian evolution
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)
Scarlet Tanager – My first ever in Payne County, OK! The bird flew into the Lewis’ Woodpecker tree at Lake Carl Blackwell, sang once, and flew right over our heads heading northwest. We clearly saw the deep red underparts, relatively short black tail, and whitish underwings of an alternate-plumaged male.
Bonus material – images from my chestboard cam (Yes, I strapped a trail cam to my chest and walked around like that for a few hours):