Superbowl of Birding by Lisa Hutchings

In Search of Snowy Owls, photo by Lisa Hutchings

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Johnny and I started our day at 5 am with my son Danny to do some unofficial owling–something he and I had never done before, and we let Johnny take the lead. We visited Daniel Boone Park, Hamlin Reservation, and Cranes Beach in Ipswich, MA then off to Dow Brook Conservation Area and Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in Rowley MA and then back to Joppa Flats. No owls, however, we did get very close to a small pack of coyote pups howling just before sunrise!

My co-captain and Johnny kept a perfect list of every bird or call we encountered throughout the event. We headed back to Joppa so we could meet our teammates and officially start counting birds.

We joined Johnathon Benson and his 4 teen birders and headed out to Cape Ann. We pulled over in Essex MA to spy a Green-winged Teal, a Hooded Merganser, and other waterfowl. Then it was off to Jodrey State Fish Pier in Gloucester where we were harassed by a large flock of Rock Doves, entertained by a large flock of Red-breasted Mergansers diving, and I got a long-distance glance at my first Surf Scoter. From there, we headed out to Rockport where we stopped at Folly Cove to add a Red-throated Loon to our list and then spent over an hour at Halibut Point State Reservation. This is where Johnny spotted a large flock of Black Scoter, and our team captain Johnathon with his scope and infinite amounts of patience and skills, pointed out a small flock of Harlequin Ducks and a Dovekie–a 5 point bird that we got to call in!

The teens all really wanted to be the first to complete one of the special bird checklists: The Seekers List. They all gave 110% and asked wonderful questions throughout the day. All the grebe species on the list eluded us but we almost found all 30 species so overall we were all very pleased with our efforts. Johnny and I really enjoyed birding with Johnathon and the Drumlin Farm teens and we hope we get the chance to bird with them again some day.

We couldn’t believe how quickly the time had passed so we didn’t get to Ipswich River until almost 2pm. It was there that we ran into a very animated and colorful group of birders known as the “Bird Ladies of Paradise” who had fashioned home-made hats with cups of birdseed on top! We had to take their photo and then we added more than 12 species to our list including a Carolina Wren, another life bird for me.

From there, we headed to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge with the hopes of finding a Snowy Owl and a few more species before the sun set. The wind really picked up, the temps plummeted, and the snow started to fly. Our last bird of the event was a lovely female Snowy Owl. We finished the day with 55 species and then we said goodbye to the Drumlin Farm team who had to get back to Lincoln, MA before the weather got worse.

Now, it was time to party! Johnny and I met up with Jonathan Brooks from the The Accidentals team, and he helped us fill out our report and told us what to expect in the judging room. Then it was time for pizza and raffles…lots and lots of great raffle prizes!

To make the event even better, our team was awarded the prize for nearly completing the Seekers List with gift certificates for all the teens!

By then, it was really snowing, and it was almost 7 pm. We had been up since 3:30 am, so it was time to go home. Johnny was the perfect co-pilot, and he and I spent a lot of time chatting about Bird-a-thon strategies, and how we definitely need to get our own team for Joppa next Superbowl in 2020!

Thanks for watching/listening and enjoy the show!

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