A big thanks goes out to everyone who participated in The Kensington Conservancy's Birding Big Day on September 8th! We had eight teams consisting of nineteen participants record a total of 101 different bird species over the course of nine hours in the Central Algoma area.
The idea behind this Birding Big Day was for each team to go out and see how many different species they could find. There was no prize attached to first place, it was just a friendly competition. Birding could begin at 7:00 am and go until 4:00pm.
For me personally, it was a very fun and busy day. I was teamed up with my dad, Ron, and we left my house bright and early in order to make it to the Echo Bay viewing platform before the competition officially started at 7:00am, with a target of getting 60 species for the day. We arrived about ten minutes early and it was hard to just sit and wait and not start counting all the birds we were seeing and hearing. As soon as 7:00am hit, we added American Bittern to our list, as one had been sitting nearby since we arrived. A couple minutes later, the Virginia Rail we heard at 6:59am called again, allowing us to count it. We managed to add Sora and Marsh Wren here as well, two species I wasn't counting on getting.
Next, we made our way through the Bar River Flats then on to Pumpkin Point. We were quickly adding species to our list as we went, which was great. It took about five seconds to hear the resident Red-bellied Woodpecker call at the end of Pumpkin Point and there were nine Pied-Billed Grebes all together in the open water visible from Centennial Park, something I don't think I've seen before. We hurried over to the Bruce Mines sewage lagoons, where we picked up Northern Shoveler, Bufflehead and Blue-winged Teal. We took the back roads back towards Desbarats, where we saw over 100 Turkey Vultures near Northern Quality Meats and a Brown Thrasher on Government Road, just east of Gordon Lake Road.
Once all the teams arrived back at the TKC Conservation Centre, we dined on some great potluck food and tallied up all the birds that we saw. It was great to hear about all the birds that the other teams got, as everyone had a fantastic day and saw a lot of species.
There were no real rare birds observed throughout the day, but there were a couple birds a little late heading south: Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird and Marsh Wren.
Here is a list, in taxonomic order, of all 101 species that were observed by all the participants:
Great Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
Black-throated Green Warbler
We plan on doing this event again in the spring, likely in mid-to-late May, where we should be able to easily blow by 100 species for the day. So stay tuned for that!