The 2013 Birding Cup was an interesting one. I was late to the party, driving down from Syracuse to meet Alex, Ian and Nate at around midnight. They had an extremely successful evening and half of the team was voting for a couple hours of sleep. I had been watching the radar and was quickly realizing that our hopes for a strong migration were in vain. High pressure had dominated the region for almost a week resulting in slow migration. We thought that we had a good chance at a good night of migration, but that was only materializing over us and to the north, meaning there was a huge departure of birds. My vote was to keep birding in hopes of adding a couple more species to boost our totals in case the migration was as bad as I feared. We settled on a compromise…we would drive an hour to check out some Barn Owls, allowing all but the drive to sleep. I am not sure anyone slept for a significant amount of time, though.
After a very productive night, we quickly realized we were in trouble when there were very few warblers and other migrants singing. Luckily from all of our combined local experience we had backups to our backup spots for the breeding birds. This was probably the one thing that saved us, that and our absolute refusal to accept how bad the conditions were. Rather than realizing that driving to a new spot was likely to end in disappointment, we just kept punishing ourselves all day. Our last 8 hours of birding only yielded about 25 species. Our final total was ~450 miles driven, average of 0 hours slept in the last 36, 21 species of warbler, and 140 species total (11 short of our inaugural run last year).
Scroll through the posts below to check out some of our live updates and see if it was enough to hold on to the Birding Cup for another year!
Missed the redpoll, btw.
A big thanks to all our sponsors – Swarovski Optik, Kauffman Insurance Agency, the Millers, family and friends. Thanks to Swarovski Optik for the letting us test out there new optics during the event. No big surprise…they were fantastic. Look for a full review soon.