On Saturday, Sept. 12, the Kensington Conservancy will be hosting its third annual Birding Big Day in observation of the fall migration.
Birding Big Day is a friendly competition to test local birders of all skill levels, getting them out and collecting as much data on as many species as possible for the day. This data, for the most part, is for scientific purposes and all participants are encouraged to enter their findings into e-Bird (the CornellLab of Ornithology).
This event is a fundraiser for local bird conservation.
"In the past two years, we've raised approximately $1,000, which has gone to the establishment and upkeep of a bluebird box trail in the Desbarats area" said Carter Dorscht, program manager for the Kensington Conservancy.
"In 2018 and 2019, we collectively recorded 101 species of birds each year. The highlight species last year were Bonaparte's Gull, Peregrine Falcon, Barred Owl and Olive-sided Flycatcher."
"I think this year we'll finally break away from the streak of 101 species. Hopefully more than that! In terms of actual species, it'll likely be all of the usual suspects, but I'm hoping for at least one good rarity this year that causes some excitement," said Dorscht.
The birding boundaries are anywhere from Echo Bay to Thessalon which includes Highway 638 and St. Joseph Island. You can choose to bird alone or as part of a team – obviously observing social distancing guidelines. The event runs the entire day so you can choose to bird for as long as you wish.
Normally, an evening potluck and tally social at the Kensington Conservation Center follows the end of the day's birding activities. However, this year due to COVID-19 precautions, it was decided to forgo the gathering in favour of tallying results electronically to be compiled by Dorscht himself.
Last year, Birding Big Day took place on Sept. 7. I participated as part of a three-member team. Together, we observed and recorded some 48 species. We birded for about six or seven hours that day. Our area of focus was mainly St. Jospeh Island. However, even as we were tallying, there were still several large hawks at the Conservation Center being observed.
Anyone interested in participating in Birding Big Day on Sept. 12 is encouraged to visit the Kensington Conservancy website to register.