Date: 5/13/19 7:47 pm
From: Ryan Tomazin <wvwarblers...>
Subject: PAMC Report - Crawford, Erie, Lawrence, Butler, Allegheny & Washington Counties
Hello All,

To begin, frankly I'm surprised that reporting on PAMC Big Days isn't a thing anymore. Have Facebook, eBird and Twitter really just swallowed up the whole human interaction experience???

Anyways, my day began way too early. Thanks to my apparently new inability to sleep in a car for more than 90 minutes, I woke up at 10:10 on Friday, managed to sit still and rest until midnight, and then headed up the road to Custards at Geneva Marsh in Crawford County. Starting at 12:21 a.m. (not the 3:30 my alarm would have started me at), bird #1 was Virginia Rail, followed quickly by a fledgling Great Horned Owl that was pretty close by. While walking the spillway road, I added Sora, Swamp Sparrow, a number of beaver, two or three Common Gallinule, and finally a screech owl, after much calling. I ended up with 9 species there. The setting moon was beautiful, and I saw an amazing shooting star that lasted for 5-6 seconds. After the moon set, a heavy fog crept up.

Next was the middle part of Geneva Marsh, where I walked the main road alone at 3:30 in the fog with beavers and muskrats vocalizing and making other assorted noises. Another VA Rail, my first Marsh Wren, and then an American Bittern called just once nearby. More amazing shooting starts when I could see the stars.

The fog put a damper on the birds at McMichael Road, so I took a nap and woke up at 5. Gary Reimer, a birder from that area, showed up, and we began birding in the gloom while he waited for his birding friends to show. More Sora, Marsh Wren, Gallinule and other expected birds, plus a Barred Owl that called just once. When I went back to the car, I had a female Prothonotary, plus a Northern Waterthrush.

Up the road, I caught up with Gary and friends. There were two singing Veerys, a Tennessee Warbler, and more new expected species.

Miller's Ponds was partially obscured by fog, but I had an Upland Sandpiper on a telephone pole on the way there, and another calling 1/2 mile past that. The ponds area had Sandhill Cranes, Savannah Sparrows, Bobolinks, a Horned Lark, and something I've never seen or heard of before: a fog-bow. It was maybe 300-400 yards wide, very thick, and pure white. Very cool.

I moved on to the Espyville Marina, where Turkey Vultures were on the banks of the lake. Had a Red-shouldered Hawk being mobbed by other new birds. North Shore Road and the Manning/Tuttle area had lots of warblers, including Bay-breasted, Magnolia and more. Got two Red-headed Woodpeckers in the expected dead tree area there, and overall had 50+ species in that area.

Time was slipping away too fast as I made for the Spillway, where I had the normal woodland warblers and flycatchers on the way, and Cliff Swallows, cormorants, Common Loons, Purple Martins and my first Forster's Tern at the parking lot at the spillway. As I counted up my species total so far, a pair of American Wigeons (quite late ones) flew right over, and I got good looks at the male to verify. They were species #101, and Chimney Swifts in Linesville gave me 102 species at 10 a.m., all in Crawford County.

I shot up to Presque Isle next, knowing that my day's schedule was getting blown up. Vista #1 had Bufflehead, Red-breasted Mergs, and other normal migrants. The next couple of stops were uneventful, but Vista #4 got me my lifer Eared Grebe, a continuing rarity there. As I worked through the IBA (the flooded IBA), I added Caspian Tern, a kingfisher, and other expected birds. The ranger's station bird feeder had no less than 7 Baltimore Orioles on it, and in one of the photos, a Red-breasted Nuthatch was in the background. Fun!

With the breeze picking up, and noticing how flooded everything was, I tried to bird Gull Point from the lighthouse, but only added Common Tern. There was no time to walk out, so I headed to Dead Pond Trail, where I saw Bob Mulvihill and his aviary group. He gave me a few leads and off I went, adding the Black-throated Blue Warbler, kingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher and other warblers that Bob mentioned. A few minutes birding with Michael David helped me when he spotted a harrier that I got on. There was an amazing, very thick, very wide rainbow "bridge" across the sky where the harrier was. It was not a bow, as there wasn't even one degree of arc to it. Another new meteorological phenomenon. Working my way out of the park, I added an Ovenbird, and got my day's only House Finch at the environmental center. I think I totaled only 19 new species in Erie.

Being so late, I caught a quick nap at The Wells at Geneva Marsh (with gallinule, Marsh Wren and others singing in the background), and then hit the Volant Strips in Lawrence County. Added mockingbird and Henslow's Sparrows, plus more Bobolinks and another Horned Lark. The Shaner Gravel Pond was great. There were 10 Short-billed Dowitchers, 2 Dunlin, 4 Semi-palmated Plovers, 5-6 Least Sandpipers (I thought a couple might have been Semi-palmated Sandpipers, but I saw none in my photos, so I took them off the list today), plus Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpipers, and a vocal female Hooded Merganser. I THINK the Lesser Yellowlegs might have been my 126th species of the day, breaking my personal record set in 2017 running a similar route. The other shorebirds got me over 130 by 6 p.m.

Time was waiting for no man, so I rushed south, adding more Osprey and Bald Eagles along the way. Sewickley Heights Park in Allegheny County got me Cerulean Warbler, and at Walker Park, my only Louisiana Waterthrush. Rain was starting to spit, giving me premature dark skies to worry about. I jetted over to Burgettstown Road and got a Grasshopper Sparrow and my first (and only) live turkey of the day. All the fun birds showed up at Bald Knob pond Sunday morning, and I had almost nothing there Saturday night. Dreams of evening-singing White-eyed Vireo and Willow Flycatcher were dashed at Hillman State Park in Washington County, but as I made my way up Five Points Road Extension, listening for a vireo, I was surprised by not one, not two, but three whip-poor-wills calling in one area. The third was contesting with an American Woodcock that was displaying, and the woodcock was species #137 for the day. A fourth whip-poor-will was calling at Haul Road and Five Points. I had the song cued up in the car before I got to the park, and never had to use it!

The weather was getting windier and spitting rain as I got to Robinson Mall to see if I could get an easy nighthawk, but none appeared. I didn't bother going to Pittsburgh to try there, and opted for home. What a day...

The numbers: in 41 hours from Friday morning to Saturday night, I slept 2 hours, 35 minutes, and drove 400 miles.
- got all the expected raptors except for Sharp-shinned
- got all three owls
- only 6 species of waterfowl, but 11 shorebird species
- all the Raillidaes
- all woodpeckers except for Pileated
- all swallows except for Bank
- 20 species of warblers
- 9 sparrow species
- big misses: the aforementioned, plus hummingbird, cuckoos, peregrine, Blue-headed Vireo, Winter Wren, Swainson's and Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, some easier migrant and breeding warblers, White-throated Sparrow, junco, Purple Finch and Pine Siskin.

Everything I had is in eBird, if you search by county. Some second-rate photos accompany some reports.

It was a beautiful day once the fog burned off, with a low of 38F in the wee hours, topping out at 68F. A day that I don't expect to top, species-wise. I hope that you enjoyed reading this, and will contribute your own tales of the Big Day.


Ryan Tomazin - Bridgeville, PA
Join us on Facebook!