Sunday, May 11, 2008

World Series friends

World Series Day is primarily about birds for many, but for me it's also a chance to get together with all the friends I bird with at some point during the course of a year.

2008 was the 10th year of the Sandy Hook Century Run and I've managed to have a part in each of those ten years. The first year it poured rain the whole day and was awful and I swore I'd never do it again! We've not had such awful weather since, thank goodness, but it does take a certain type of person to subject themselves to a full 18 hours straight of birding. This is about half of our team of 32 - others arrived later than our 5:30 am start or left before our 9 pm finish - but we ended with many of these 16 or so listening to a Barred Owl calling somewhere off in the distance.

Some of us are very serious and persistent in looking for birds... others not so much. I tend to fall into the latter category, enjoying instead the chance to chat and look at the clouds and generally goof off. My friend Lou is one of those "very serious birder types" and found our day Surf Scoters lazing on the bay... he'd moved away from NJ about 5 years ago, but appeared yesterday and I was so happy to see him again. We'd birded together on Sunday mornings at Sandy Hook for years before he moved away.

We all recognize that fabulous smile... Patrick from The Hawk Owl's Nest was one of four co-leaders for the day. If you want to read a proper report of our big day, one that focuses on the birds we saw, read his post and have a look at the Cape May Warbler that was probably THE bird of the day for many and a lifer for me.

Some of us are more willing to go the distance to find birds and Patty is that... she trudged through water and marsh at the salt pond at North Beach in hopes of scaring up something good for us to see... this Canada Goose pair wasn't so happy about the intrusion.

It was a slow day for migrants and that left time to pay attention to other things on the coast. At Plum Island we found a good number of horseshoe crabs wrong-side-up on the shore of the bay and Susanna and others methodically righted each crab to free them back to the water.

Sometimes, especially mid-day when one is inclined to be cranky and feel especially sleep-deprived, it's nice to just walk along the bay and appreciate the sand and the sun. I took this pic of Gail and then joined her.

Part of what's especially nice about being part of a "Century Run" team is that we needn't be quite so serious or competitive about finding birds... we can have fun and just enjoy the day and each other's company. We are sometimes serious, though, like when the group marched in line through the field at K Lot at North Beach to find sparrows... there was this mouse-like bird that we'd hoped would become a Grasshopper Sparrow, but I'm not sure we ever made that ID.
Janet and I became fast friends as volunteers at the bird observatory a couple years ago and we had a very serious role to play in this year's World Series. A couple years ago she and I found the very rare Eurasian Collared Dove on World Series Day (totally by accident!) and so were the designated spotters for the almost-as-rare White-Winged-Dove that had been found at Sandy Hook a couple days ago. We never found it yesterday, but we kept each other going and laughing throughout the day. When the rest of the team went on a second "death march" to the salt pond, she and I stayed behind at the hawk watch to appreciate the view and keep an eye out for any odd-looking doves.

A Century Run team accepts birders of all ranks... the beginner, the wanna-be, the lazy, the expert-who-needn't-make-the-death march-because he's seen everything! Rich Kane held a comfy chair at K Lot while we marched to the salt pond.

During lunch at Spermacetti Cove we had the chance to spot a few birds for the youth team from the Newark Museum... kids... almost excited about birds... imagine that! Sandy Hook was only one stop of many for their team. They were a great group to meet and I hope they did well for their efforts.

Scott from SHBO is the main energy behind the team and is a generally good guy. Great birder, excellent storyteller and seen here trying to rescue a horseshoe crab from fishing line tangles. He had me in stitches at the end of the day telling stories about trips to North Dakota, finding dead bodies while birding... you name it and Scott has a story for it.

We ended the day with 117 species... not bad... a respectable number, I'd guess. For me the nicest part was the chance to bird with so many friends.


Jayne said...

Sounds like a wonderful day Laura! Wow... 117 species. More than respectable!

NCmountainwoman said...

No wonder you came home exhausted. What a day! Thanks for sharing it with us.

bobbie said...

It is a great experience to share something like this with so many good friends. You must have had a wonderful time.

In looking at old pictures today I suddenly realized that I had made an error way back in my posts, when I pictured what I thought was SandyHook Lighthouse. You must be familiar with it. I should have recognized Montauk Point Light. They are similar in shape. If you saw it at the time, you were gracious enough to let the error go and I thank you. I've replaced the picture, even though it's long forgotten by readers now.

Mary said...

117 species! Wow. I don't know if I've seen that many in my life.

Glad you had a wonderful time. It's the people that make fun. Not really the birds...

Susan Gets Native said...

Patrick is just entirely too adorable. It shouldn't be allowed.

You've got stamina, girl. I couldn't have done 18 hours.

LauraHinNJ said...

Jayne: Yeah.. it was a nice day. We birders are always greedy for just one more, you know.


NCMountainwoman: It was a nice tired, though. You know how it is after a day spent outdoors.

Bobbie: Ha! I'd looked at that post and noticed that the lighthouse was painted a different color than I knew it to be and just thought that maybe your photo was from years ago. Did you run into any crazy world series birders down your way?

Mary: I'm sure you have.. count and you'll be surprised!

Susan: He is, but let's not embarass him.

There was a very nice view at the hawkwatch... the counter, actually. Oh nevermind!


dguzman said...

That Patrick--what a hunk! Glad you had a good time. And wow, a Cape May Warbler at Cape May!

Larry said...

117 seems like an awful lot of species to me! I participate in a couple of species counting events but I like the social aspect of it more so than counting species. It sounds like you had much fun although the long days must be tiring.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Laura,
Your words "I tend to fall into the latter category, enjoying instead the chance to chat and look at the clouds and generally goof off." are music to my ears!
This is how I like to bird also. I'm looking forward to birding with you in North Dakota.