Bird-A-Thon Team with the Youngest Counters Detect the Most Species
November 15, 2022
Written by Aaron Haiman, Drake’s Beach Sanderlings Team Leader
The 2022 Point Blue Conservation Science Rich Stallcup bird-a-thon is wrapping up. This year the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings were again delighted to participate, and again had a terrific day. The group (which this year was comprised of, from left to right in the photo to the right, Eddie Monson, Eddie’s dad John Monson, Mark Schulist, Max Benningfield, Connor Cochrane, Lucas Cornelissen, Allison Chang, me, and Allison’s dad Peter Chang) decided on October 1st for our bird-a-thon.
We gathered in the darkness of 5:00am at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Like last year, we were treated to a wonderful flight of Swainson’s Thrushes migrating and calling in the dark sky above us. We were able to hear a Northern Saw-Whet Owl and several Great Horned Owls right from the parking lot, so those three species marked the beginning of our list!
We drove up Limantour Road to see if we could find more owls, but found no new species there. That was not the case at Olema Marsh where the Virginia Rails and Sora were calling to each other like crazy before we even stepped out of our cars! I was delighted to hear these birds as Olema Marsh has been pretty dry the last few years. I am guessing that the rains that fell in September gave the Marsh, and the rails, a much-needed recharge.
From there we enjoyed the dawn chorus at Five Brooks Pond and then took off for the rest of our day! We travelled across Marin County and stopped at so many iconic locations. Bolinas Lagoon where we were treated to a swirling flock of Elegant Terns. The Outer Point where the team got to see a small pod of Humpback Whales and also found Wandering Tattler, Rock Wren, Lazuli Bunting, and a Blackburnian Warbler and Tennessee Warbler in the same binocular view! Stinson Beach where we found a MacGillivray’s Warbler and Yellow-green Vireo, the rarest bird of the day, hanging out with a few Warbling Vireos and a Cassin’s Vireo! The Las Gallinas Wastewater Treatment Plant where we finished out the day spotting an American Bittern, Ridgeway’s Rail, Common Gallinule, and an Osprey. Those last three species were all ones that we missed last year.
Ironically, while we picked up those misses, we missed a few other species like Wild Turkey (which was a surprising miss, to say the least) and ended up with 157 species which is exactly the same number that we found last year!
During the 15-ish hours of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings bird-a-thon, we ate cookies, we ate potato chips, we talked cameras, we talked non-player-characters, we drove over 100 miles, and we had a terrific time!
A huge thank you to you for supporting this team, this event, and the work and research done by Point Blue Conservation Science to better understand and protect the natural world and the birds who we are lucky enough to share it with. And thank you as well, to Point Blue Conservation Science for organizing this event! The members of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings are already looking forward to next year!
2022 Drake’s Beach Sanderlings Bird-a-thon Species List
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
Northern Saw-Whet Owl
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Total Species = 157