Birder's Guide

NOV 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 33 of 67

Big Day Record Our route was carefully scouted, planned to-the-minute, and refned over a three-year period. We traveled from San Antonio west to Uvalde County, and passed by Mitchell Lake eastbound to Houston, Anahuac NWR, and High Island, before fnishing at Bolivar Flats. defated our hopes, as we only managed to tie our own record. From midnight to midnight on Thursday, April 25, 2013, we tallied 294 species, exceeding the record by 30 species! More importantly, the 2013 Big Day was an essential fundraiser for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and eBird, raising more than $325,000. Planning: The lead-up to this day required months of planning. We began scouring eBird records and reworking the route as snow fell in the Northeast. Logistics of rental vehicles, hotels, and special 32 access to closed areas were all handled before we hit the ground in Texas. These planning sessions led to excellent new detours in all three major birding portions of the route, each of which netted us species we had never found on our Texas Big Days. We spent about a week on the ground prior to the day testing these new route variations, fnding birds, and strategizing with our scouters: Tom Johnson, Matt Hafner, Andy Guthrie, and Ken Rosenberg. During scout week, we broke into teams to cover three main areas on the route: Hill Country/Uvalde region (Marshall and Tim), Houston/Piney Woods (Brian and Andrew), and High Island/Bolivar Peninsula (Chris and Jessie). Weather: Compared to the previous two years, the weather throughout spring 2013 was ideal. The weeks prior to the Big Day saw the jet stream take on unusually contorted shapes, enabling more cold fronts to reach the Texas coast. This produced a cool and wet spring that kept many wintering species lingering in Texas later than most years. This weather pattern also contributed to the fallout conditions that we experienced on the day, which was referred to by some locals as the best Texas fallout in 20 years! Almost like magic, Andrew put on his BirdCast hat, reading the weather forecast in a way that enabled us to choose which day to run the Big Day nearly a week in advance. Many of us were Big Days take you to an incredible variety of locations and habitats. Here the Sapsuckers land in a Wal-Mart parking lot at 2 a.m., and Lesser Nighthawk is added to the list. Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | November 2013

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