Pasadena Audubon's biggest event raises funds for worthy causes. This year, those causes are the scholarship funds to allow young birders to attend conferences of the Western Field Ornithologists (the Mike San Miguel Memorial Fund), and summer camps at the Audubon Center at Debs Park.
The objective is to count as many different species as possible in L.A. County during Birdathon weekend. Birdathon teams take widely divergent, but very serious, approaches to this event. Here are the results:
The Big Sit-66 Species: Team Big Sit had a splendidly successful day. Team members included Laura Garrett (leader), Elizabeth Cordero, Mark Hunter, Jan and Mickey Long, Elaine MacPherson, Carol Smith, Eileen Burton, Ira Blitz, Kym Buzdygon. While other teams were racing all over LA County, they were sitting, standing, and strolling around the lakes, enjoying the lovely cool morning and counting birds. They got most of the usual suspects, like swarms of Vaux's Swifts and Tree Swallows, nesting Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants, and Canada Geese with goslings. Warbler numbers were low, and they missed Wilson's, Townsend's, and Nashville. But they were delighted to see Warbing, Cassin's, and Hutton's Vireos, along with Bullock's and Hooded Orioles, and large flocks of Cedar Waxwings. They were also delighted to see a flock of Whimbrels fly overhead, a Whittier Narrows first for them. They were mesmerized by a Peregrine Falcon diving to catch a Rock Pigeon. The falcon failed. Lucky pigeon! Disturbing was the never-ending stream of Great-tailed Grackles, each one carrying a fecal sac and disposing of them in the lake. Ew. In the end, they counted 66 species, a record for the Big Sit.
Team Early Bird-86 Species: This father and son team was newly hatched in 2016. On April 30th, Calvin, and his dad, Dan, set out at an early hour (5 AM) in search of birds. Well, that's how they earned their team name. Over the course of the day, Team Early Bird visited coves, fresh water marshes, salt water marshes, botanic gardens and canyons. At the end of the day, Team Early Bird saw a total of 86 species and amazingly saw 3 life birds - including Least Tern, Cinnamon Teal and Swainson's Thrush. The Team has already raised $166 for the PAS Birdathon. Way to go Team Early Bird!
Team Verdin-134 Species: Back again this year was Dessi Sieburth with his binoculars in one hand and his camera in the other. Last year Dessi photographed 118 species. Could he break his own record? Starting before the crack of dawn om April 30th ,Team Verdin was on a mission to leave the Antelope Valley with 100 species. Apollo Park, Piute Ponds, Bob's Gap (where we ran into a couple of scouters from the Irritable Owl Syndrome who had just left Grassy Hollow where it was 32 degrees and snowing! Brrrr....), the Abbey and Fort Tejon Road. Heading down in the valley with 101 species! Onward to Hansen Dam, Sepulveda, Malibu Lagoon and a major traffic jam going to Ballona slowed the team down - but not their spirits! By the end of the day, Dessi successfully photographed 134 species! Way to go Team Verdin!
Team Irritable Owl Syndrome-208 Species: On May 1st, team "Irritable Owl Syndrome" covered the vast oceans, damp marshes, grassy parks, majestic mountains, windy deserts, and urban streets of Los Angeles County on a 21-hour birdathon. Their mission: to identify (by sight or sound) as many species of birds as possible in a single day, in Los Angeles County. Jon Feenstra, Dan Maxwell, Janet and Mark Scheel ended with 205 ABA species, plus 3 non-ABA birds (Lilac-crowned Parrot, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, and Egyptian Goose), for a total of 208 species.
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