Friday, May 6, 2011

How much can 3-4 days change the game?

The date of the WSB is purposely timed to allow the maximum number of species to be seen in a day. The way it works is it's carefully chosen to allow for lingering Winter birds to overlap with arriving Spring birds and migrants. The actual date usually varies within a 7 day span (May-9 to May-15) and it can make a huge difference in what we find or even how we run our route depending on if it's an "early" or "late" date. If it's an early date, we find and route for more lingering ducks, but if we have a late date (like this year) we concentrate more on late Spring arrivals like Alder Flycatcher and Mourning Warbler to make up for the lack of waterfowl. Last year was a late date and we missed several birds we'd easily get if it was 3-4 days earlier like Bonaparte's Gull and Green-winged Teal. Spring weather can also have a big influence on when birds depart or arrive so that can make a big difference. I can remember years where we had a hot early May and EVERYTHING left over from Winter was gone days before the event. The other side of the coin was when we had a colder and wetter early May and we literally were seeing our "first of season" of several migrants during the actual WSB!

I guess if I had a preference I'd pick an earlier date. It's harder to scout because things arrive closer to the event, but the total count tends to be just a bit higher. Our WSB record total of 231 came on an early date. It's also probably because I scout the Southern portion of our route and that plays a more important role in early years. Over the next week I get to watch all my lingering ducks leave. I can hardly wait...

Michael Fritz
Seaville, NJ

Sent from my iPad


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