Date: 4/1/17 5:42 pm
From: Paul Roisen <roisenp1950...>
Subject: [ia-bird] March Big Day 2017--sorry for the late post
My friend Nathan Miller, a seriously talented birder, from the Lamoni area
in Decatur County invited me to participate in a attempt to break the March
Big Day record which I think is 102 set awhile back with by the Fuller
brothers and John Ruthenbeck.

Date: March 31, 2017
Starting Temp 42
End Temp 46
Starting Wind 12-15mph
Ending Wind 3-4mph
Sky overcast all day with one very brief sprinkle
Start time 6:00AM
End time 7:30PM
Counties covered: Appanoose, Decatur, Ringgold
All three counties had received considerable rain and mud was everywhere..

The AM started off quite well with Eastern Screech and American Woodcock
vocalizing. Brief run to Kellerton (Ringgold) which sported a
Rough-legged Hawk and 25 or so Greater Prairie Chickens be harassed by two
Northern Harriers.

Back to Decatur County hitting Lake LaShane, Lamoni Sewage Lagoons, Little
River Lake, back to the "Decatur Boys" property, and Nine Eagles State Park.
Best birding start to a day this year: 52 species by 9:00, 82 by 10:30.

On our way to Rathbun Dam we realized that with all the species we had
gathered we did not have an American Goldfinch yet. This seemed rather
surprising and a little concerning since we would need every species we
could possibly locate to have a chance. Mike and Vicki Stephens indicated
that they indeed did have Am Goldfinch but not much else. A 3 minute stop
snared this species and as it turned out we did not see or hear another
goldfinch all day.

Our first run to Lake Rathbun produced Snow and Ross's Goose, Horned and
Eared Grebe, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers as well as several Herring
Gulls moving us to *91 species by 2:30PM.*

We had missed Northern Bobwhite in Ringgold and Decatur. It was getting
late and still 8 species short of 100--which was my original goal since I
had only 99 species total from Jan 1 through March 30. Nathan on the other
hand would not be satisfied without at least a tie. Truthfully, I was
tensing up a little as my competitive nature gnawed at my insides Reality
was beganning to set in and the rest of the day was a real grind with lots
of vehicle miles and walking.

However, considering we had missed Mallard, Belted Kingfisher, Cedar
Waxwing, Trumpeter Swan, and both expect accipiters and had seen any
shorebirds yet we still optimistic about our chances but daylight and
places to bird were fast decreasing.

Sedan Bottoms was kind of our last chance still needing 11 to tie and 12 to
break the record. Possible birds: Greater White-fronted Goose, Cackling
Goose, Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Northern Pintail--Shorebirds with
possible Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral, Wilson's Snipe--Cooper's
and Sharp-shinned, Barred Owl, and Belted Kingfisher. If we got them all
we would be successful! Chipping Sparrow was hoped for but we were kind of
out of habitat for a even an early visit from this species.

Mallard, Hooded Merganser, a Great Egret is perched in a tree, Greater
Yellowlegs, and GWF Goose popped up quickly (96). As we headed back into
Pool 8 we surprised wonderful views of a (IMHO) late Short-eared Owl (97).
The Red-shoulded Hawks on Nathan's property were a no show so we tried
for the one that had been down on 590th but no luck. Birds activity was
dropping rapidly. As we walked out we were really starting to feel the
weight of not even making 100. But.... Barred Owl starts vocalizing (98)
and then about 110 Pectorals get up from "who knows where" to get us to
(99). We are know out of ideas so drive the Sedan Bottom roads a little.
A lone Northern Pintail (100) flies over with a bunch of teal and
mallards. Then a couple of Cacking Goose show up in a hidden pond (101).
My stomach unknots a little since 100 feels so much better than 99. S*o
why is that we do not feel the same way when we go to the store?? Doesn't
1.99 seem much cheaper than 2.00 dollars. Yep I am still tired from last
night.*

Still not Belted Kingfisher. *We have seen more ponds and crossed more
creeks, steams, and rivers than Noah's Ark and NO Belted Kingfisher*! No
accipiters, no snipe, no swans, no sandhill crane, no lesser yellowlegs, on
Canvasback. It is 6:30 and with the overcast it is getting to then end of
the day.

Head back towards Decatur and hope to see an accipiter or swan or
canvasback along the road? we only need ONE to tie!! As we come through
Centerville my Subaru balks at heading home and unexpectedly heads to the
Rathbun. Hum, why not we have would have about 20 minutes of reasonable
light on the lake. Nothing new on the lake. We approach the north end
of the dam (no one is coming) so we pause and scan. Nathen remarks that
there are possibly some small gulls up by the Marina but maybe then are
just far away. We speed over there as the light is fading past. As we
park we immediately notice a Bonaparte's Gull (102) then 2, 3, 6. We count
16. High 5's are exchanged as we have at least tied the record. A couple
more small Gulls. Can't make them out. Get out scope. Two more
Bonaparte's Gull "No 3 NO that's a Franklin's YES two more. We are 103.
Emotionally worn out we pack up and head out to drop off Nathan.

Amazing moment of the day for me I hear a Red-Shouldered Hawk scream
except is seems very muted and has a slightly different timber but yet it
does not sound far away. I hear it again and stop and listen and Nathan
just says that is a Blue Jay. On this point I am skeptical but I hear a
gain and sure enough it was a Blue Jay. When the Red-shoulded pair were
there at least one of the Blue Jay's leaned to mimic it incredibly well. I
had never heard such an accurate vocalization as that from this species.

850 miles in 36 hours--with actual Big Day vehicle miles of 320 and about 4
miles of walking made for a very tired Paul by the time he returned to
Sioux City at 3AM Saturday.

Shock of today. We did not have a checklist with us so wrote everything
down on a large pad. This morning when I transferred the list to a
checklist I found we had forgot to write down our sightings of American
Tree Sparrow on the MAIN list. So 104 it is.

A great thanks to Nathan who has incredible ability to identify chips and
calls and songs from many many of the species

God Bless,

*Paul O. Roisen*
*Woodbury County, IA*
*Mobile 712-301-2817 <(712)%20301-2817>*

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