Big Day (Bird Race)
28 March 1997
by Doug Overacker
Big Day Statistics:
I picked up Chuck at about 5:00 this morning. Our goal was make sure there is a March Big Day record for Ohio. We had not heard of any previous attempts. We drove to Spring Valley and arrived there at about 5:40. The weather was warm and there was very little wind to start the day. We checked out the boardwalk and heard a snipe displaying plus a number of other birds singing. We then drove to the south end of the lake and started a hike around the lake which is probably a little over two miles. Before going very far we saw the resident beaver. The birds were fairly active and we saw quite a few Rusty Blackbirds.
By the time we finished our walk and drove out we were up to 48 species. We then drove to Caesar's Creek State Park and stopped at the visitor's Center where we had seen Purple Finches the week before. We were disappointed when we found the feeders empty and no Purple Finches. We stopped at several points around the lake and added a few ducks to our list including 13 Surf Scoters, the most I had ever seen in Ohio at one time. We also found three Savannah Sparrows at the beach parking lot. Our list was now at 60. Along the road to John Bryan State Park we picked up a Red-tailed Hawk and an American Kestrel. We took a walk down to the river and picked up a couple Eastern Phoebes.
When we got back to the car we spent a few minutes getting our checklists up to date and a Pileated Woodpecker showed up. We then hiked another trail at the state park. We knew we wouldn't have any more chances for woodland birds. By now it was getting rather windy and we didn't add anything to our list. On our way to Buck Creek State Park we picked up a Northern Harrier. At the state park we added a number of waterbirds bringing our count to 74 species. As we drove north to Killdeer Plains we found a couple Greater Yellowlegs in a pond along the road. At Killdeer Plains we added three more duck species, Bald Eagle, and a Red-headed Woodpecker. Then four Double-crested Cormorants flew over as the light was fading.
As dusk approached we found at least three Short-eared Owls and ended the day listening to American Woodcocks calling. That gave us 83 species. The weather was rather pleasant most of the day. The only problem was the brisk wind all afternoon. Our goal was to get at least 80 species and we were pretty happy with our results."