The Unexpected Big Day

So, Last week after Tropical Storm Isaac I decided to check out the agricultural fields in Western Palm Beach County.  The farmers had pretty much drained all the fields early this month and I figured with 10+ inches of rain I might be able to find some migrating shorebirds in the now, surely re-flooded fields.  It was a beautiful morning with very little wind and there was tons of water and tons of birds.

White Pelicans … These are so cool to watch as they feed in such a large group.

Those who have followed my blog know that I am doing what is called a Big Year.  I’ve limited my area to Palm Beach County and only count a bird if I get a picture of it for verification.  All a Big Year is, is seeing how many different species you can see over the course of the year.  Some people will do the entire USA while others will do their State or like me a particular county. Bird watchers also will do what are called Big Days where they try to see as many species as they can in 24 hours.  Early this year in April my good friend Cheryl and I did a big day, planning out a route and really trying to see all we could.  We managed to see 93 different species in our 12-14 hrs of birding.

Upland Sandpiper … As close as one can ever expect to get to one of these guys!

Wednesday I had no intention of doing anything but go to the Ag Fields but by 10 AM or so I had already seen close to 60 species and thought to myself why not go down to the Beach and see how many more I could pick up.  I saw 20-25 more birds and it was only about 3 Pm so I figured what the heck I might as well stop at Green Cay for a little.  Well, by the end of the day I was up to 97 species and I hadn’t even planned for it when I left home!!

American Advocet … There was probably twice this many but they wouldn’t fit in the frame!

Some of the better birds seen were a large flock of American Advocets.

Peeps … From left to right there is a Least, Semi-palmated and Western Sandpiper!

I really liked this picture of 3 different Sandpipers.  These guys are notoriously difficult to ID when they are by themselves but when all 3 are in the same picture subtle but obvious difference can be seen. The bill shape and size is a good place to start!

Sandwich Tern … There were many both adult and juveniles.

Common Tern … I don’t see this species that often and was glad this one cooperated!

There were four species of Terns including this Common Tern at the Beach.

Prothonotary Warbler … This same Warbler has now been at Green Cay for over a week!

Finishing off the day at Green Cay was like the icing on the cake.  I was particularly happy to see a beautiful Prothonotary Warbler in with the other Warblers.

Downy Woodpecker … This is how I felt towards the end of my busy day!!!

Sometimes not having a plan and just going with the flow is the right way to go.  I’m sure if I had planned it better I could have easily broken 100 as there were quite a few birds I know I would have seen if I had gone to the right location.

Thank you so much for visiting!!!


About sheriffsmith

I have worked for the Broward County Sheriff's Office the last 13 years and spend most of my free time birdwatching / naturewatching and photographing the birds and nature that I encounter. I believe God has blessed us with a world that is so absolutely fascinating and wonderful and I'm doing my best to discover and show others all that he has provided us with in nature.
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One Response to The Unexpected Big Day

  1. Good shot of the Downy. I just put my suet block back out after not having one out for several months over the summer. Hopefully as fall temps begin to cool we’ll have a regular Downy visitor in the backyard like we did last year.

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