Phone Skope Big Year Update

Wow, time flies when you’re having fun. I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I last gave an update about my Phone Skope Big Year (First Update, Second Update). Anyway, it’s been about six months and I finally hit 100 species for the year. Remember, my goal is to Phone Skope 200 species.

Vortex Razor HD 20-60x85 - Tim Schreckengost - IMG_1368

February was filled with gulls, waterfowl, and shorebirds. I spent a decent amount of time picking through gulls at the Cecil County Landfill and the Peninsula Compost Company where Iceland Gulls were plentiful and Glaucous Gulls were regular. I dipped on Pink-footed Geese, but digiscoped an adult Black-headed Gull in Maryland. I river watched along the Susquehanna in Port Deposit, Maryland with White-winged Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, and Red-necked Grebes as highlights. I picked up Yellow-headed Blackbird for the year and for a state bird in New Castle County. As I was writing my research proposal, I did a fair amount of digibinning out my office window nailing the Northern Mockingbird that regularly sings atop an American Holly. My buddy, Alan, and I found a Barnacle Goose in Delaware – only the second state record if accepted.

40. Black-headed Gull - Maryland

Black-headed Gull at Hunt Valley Town Centre, Baltimore Co, MD on 4 February 2014. Digiscoped with an iPhone 5 + Celestron Regal 80F-ED & Phone Skope Adapter. iPhone photo by Tim Schreckengost.

March started out similar to February with a lot of river watching – I finally found my lifer Little Gull and added a few more waterfowl species to my list! I spent even more time in the office than I did in February, but I did build a nice University of Delaware patch list, which allowed me to add numerous common species to my big year list – Carolina Chickadee, Mourning Dove, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Common Grackle. In addition, Nate, Alan, and I broke the March Big Day record for Delaware!

73. Ross's Geese - Delaware - IMG_4096

Ross’s Geese along Rt. 9 in Lewes, Sussex County, DE on 22 March 2014. Digiscoped with an iPhone 5 + Vortex Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. iPhone photo by Tim Schreckengost.

At the beginning of April, I spent a few days at the Birding Optics & Gear Expo in Columbus, Ohio with Phone Skope. I tested out the Phone Skope Adapter on several spotting scopes including the Leica APO-Televid 77. Geese were migrating north and I was able to track down a continuing Greater White-fronted Goose in New Castle. I snagged Northern Flicker and Chipping Sparrow in my yard back in western Pennsylvania. At the end of the month, my free time was nonexistent, but I managed to get out for Pledge to Fledge weekend and picked up a few migrants for my big year list including Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Louisiana Waterthrush.

91. Louisiana Waterthrush - Delaware - IMG_4368

Lousiana Waterthrush at Middle Run Natural Area, New Castle County, DE on 27 April 2014. Digiscoped with an iPhone 5 + Vortex Razor HD 20-60×85 & Phone Skope Adapter. iPhone photo by Tim Schreckengost.

After presenting my research proposal at the end of April, I was able to get out and enjoy migration a bit more. May brought loads of migrants into the region – Scarlet Tanagers were singing, Great Crested Flycatchers seemed to be present in every spot I looked, and warblers were plentiful! I had trouble digiscoping migrants because they were in the thick of White Clay Creek State Park. Matt Sarver, Matt Boone, and I conducted the annual migration count in New Castle County and birded the under birded areas pretty heavily. I picked up Prairie Warbler, Bobolink, and a handful of other big year bird during the count. On May 18th, Alan Kneidel, Taj Schottland, Sam Robert, and I conducted two-thirds of a big day (a post on that soon) in Delaware and tallied about 145 species without touching New Castle County. I left Delaware after the semester ended and swung by Mount Holly Springs to twitch my lifer Purple Gallinule. I rounded out the month birding around DuBois and picked up Cedar Waxwing and Baltimore Oriole for my big year list.

101. Purple Gallinule - Pennsylvania - IMG_4511

Purple Gallinule at Mount Holly Springs, Cumberland County, PA on 19 May 2014. Digiscoped with an iPhone 5 + Celestron Regal 80F-ED & Phone Skope Adapter. iPhone photo by Tim Schreckengost.

That covers February through May. I’m heading to Aruba in just over a week (more on that later) and will post an update for June when I return from my trip. I would also like to thank Ben Lizdas and Eagle Optics for lending me a Vortex Razor HD 20-60×85 for my Phone Skope Big Year! Thanks, guys! Lastly, if you’re thinking about getting a Phone Skope setup, be sure to use the discount code in the ad on this page for 10% off.