Who Sat for the Big Sit?

By Hugh Powell
Fall plumage Blackpoll Warbler
Fall Blackpoll Warbler by Byard Miller via Birdshare.

The Big Sit passed me by this year, but I’m wondering how many other birders dedicated last Sunday to sitting in a 17-foot-diameter circle and counting all the birds they saw or heard.

I did go out birding Saturday morning, just long enough to snag a greenish Blackpoll Warbler among a horde of yellow-rumps along the shores of Cayuga Lake. To be perfectly honest, I probably would have missed it without eBird co-leader Chris Wood, who had picked some blackpoll chip notes out of the crisp fall air a good 30 minutes earlier.

It was my first fall-plumaged blackpoll and quite a departure from the dramatic stage-makeup of the same bird in spring (here’s a stunning example of what I’m talking about). If Chris hadn’t been there to point out subtleties of plumage, it probably would have gone down as simply a Confusing Fall Warbler.

That was about it for my weekend birding; Sunday was spent attacking a half-dozen pumpkins with pointy knives and ice cream scoops. But some of you were more focused. At least one tech-savvy group not only Big Sat, they Twittered about it. Bill Thompson and the Bird Watcher’s Digest crowd blogged their Sit in Ohio, as did Aimophila Adventures out in Arizona.

But there were more of you out there, I’m sure, with your lawn chairs, healthy snacks, and fleece blankets. A quick look at the eBird database turns up 21 checklists that mention “Big Sit” in the comments section. With all the species records broken, the near misses and the surprise gets, the risk of frostbite for an Eastern Screech-Owl, you must have stories to top a measly Blackpoll Warbler.

And who doesn’t like a good bird story? We’re waiting to hear yours in Comments.

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