Welcome to our Great Wisconsin Birdathon Team Page! We are Obi Gray and the Chewbacalacas, and our mission is to help raise $75,000 for bird protection in Wisconsin.
On our Big Day, Monday May 15th, Jedi birders Obi (Michael) Gray and Kay The Bird Lady will lead Vicki and Mary through bogs, woods, lakeshores, fields, and whatever else we can find in search of our target of 165 species of birds. We are hoping to best our 161 species from last year and plan to bird from midnight to midnight again. We’re joining the Great Wisconsin Birdathon because we think birds and every species of other living creatures matter.
Big Day Report: Monday May, 15th 2017.
Team members gathered in Appleton on Sunday evening to go over our planned route and discuss options. It seemed the warblers had not come into the state as early as we had hoped. We decided to bank on Wyalusing for the majority of our species and to hit Horicon first for night birds and later on in the day for shorebirds with other stops along the way and ending at Manitowoc or Sheboygan depending on what birds had been reported during the day.
We started our big day at 10:45 pm listening for rails, bitterns and owls in Horicon Marsh. It was a dark night and we all moved away from the vehicle a bit; intent on what sounds we could pick out. A coyote howled about 3 feet away from us, sending Mary in a gallop on the way back to the car and giving Kay a good chuckle. After Mary sheepishly returned, we heard a ruckus and some splashing not to far off. One less waterfowl to count? We picked up a few bird calls including Sora, Barred Owl, and Marsh Wren and had a Great Horned Owl fly over Michael's head. We moved out to Hwy 49 where quite a few Virginia Rails were calling. We also had an American Bittern, and Black-necked Stilts. Off to a good start! We traveled slowly down Dike Road with our windows open, stopping periodically to listen. We picked up American Woodcock and Wilson's Snipe, still hoping to be able to add a King Rail. There was that kik-kik one? We all listened waiting for it to sound more like a Virginia but it continued its steady call. It was about 1:30 am now and time to start the 3 hour trip to Wyalusing State Park. We wanted to get there early enough to hear the Whip-poor-wills calling.
We made it by 4:30 am but whiffed on the whip-poor wills. We did hear a Common Nighthawk however and started adding calling warblers and other birds to our list. While walking along a road, a bird flew up at Michael (he seemed to be the favorite target)...we eventually determined it was an American Woodcock with two babies. We found about 50 more species in the next hour and a half including Swainson's Gray-cheeked and Wood Thrushes, Brown Thrasher, Henslow's Sparrow, Yellow-throated, Philadelphia, Warbling, Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos, Pileated Woodpecker, Scarlet Tanagers, Cerulean Warblers, Eastern Towhees and Baltimore Orioles. Other areas of Wyalusing yielded Louisiana Waterthrush, Prothonotary, Kentucky, Hooded Warblers, and Red-headed Woodpecker. We found a single Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided and Blackburnian Warbler. It was about 8:30 then and our time and this beautiful park was up. We traveled along Hwy 18 and by watching and stopping a few times, we continue to add birds including a Red-shouldered Hawk, Eastern Kingbirds, Chimney Swifts and Cliff Swallows. We pulled off to view a hawk in flight and found a Black-billed Cuckoo in a bush! Now that is the way this should work!
By now Vicki and Mary were whining pretty loudly for some coffee and since Mary was driving at the time, we pulled into a gas station in Fennimore. Up on the wire were two Eurasian Collared Doves! We also added House Sparrows and House Finches to our list.
We traveled to Spring Green and found Lark, Field and Grasshopper Sparrows as well as a few Horned Larks and Orchard Orioles. We also picked up an American Kestrel and every one's first of year Dickcissel.
County V ponds yielded a few waterfowl and shorebirds. Things got a little slower for awhile as we searched other ponds and shorebird habitats picking up a bird or two at a time. DM & I ponds yielded an American Pipit, Semi-palmated Plovers and Bank Swallows. The best bird in the Goose Pond area was a Ring-necked Pheasant. We made a quick stop at Schoenberg Marsh but could not spot the Red-necked Grebes. We headed back to Horicon area where we had nice looks at a Whooping Crane, and added Trumpeter Swans, Black-crowned Night Heron, Northern Harrier, Willow, Least and Great-crested Flycatchers, Bobolinks, Clay-colored Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrows, Forster's Terns, Sanderling and Purple Martin to list a few. Along Hwy 49, the group spotted a Least Bittern popping in and out of the reeds.
It was 4:15 pm, and starting to rain. We headed over to Manitowoc Impoundment to see if we could find the Godwits that had been reported and add whatever else we could. We made a detour to check a reported Osprey nest but no Osprey was around. As we approached Manitowoc, the skies started to clear and a double rainbow appeared. This had to be a good sign! The horizon was filled with Common Terns and Bonaparte Gulls. We jumped out and began searching for the Godwits; Michael had them in his scope! We determined they were Hudsonian after we watched them in flight. We also added a Ruddy Turnstone, Peregrine Falcon, Lesser Black-backed Gull , Glaucous Gull and Caspian Tern. Michael then spotted a Little Gull among the Bonaparte's. We were at 168 species for the day and it was about 7:40 pm. What could we find yet? We headed to Collins Marsh where we viewed an Osprey and tried unsuccessfully to find an Eastern Screech Owl. We started back to Appleton, tired but happy. The consensus was: who wants to end on 169?! What could we do yet....aha! the Mute Swan that hangs out in a pond in Greenville...could we see it yet? Indeed we did and ended our big day 23 hours, 45 minutes after beginning with 170 species. List is below:
|American White Pelican|
|Great Blue Heron|
|Black-crowned Night Heron|
|Lesser Black-backed Gull|
|Great Horned Owl|
|N Rough-winged Swallow|
|Black-throated Green Warbler|
|Black and White Warbler|
Will you join us in our fight for Wisconsin’s bird protection T and monitoring programs? All your per-species pledges, and donations, are tax deductible.
Thank you for your support and Good Birding to you! Get out there and enjoy!
Our fundraising goal: $300
$690 raised so far CONGRATULATIONS!