Padre Island Birding, The Big Sit

Howdee all,

Sunday Jeff and I went to Padre Island to observe and help the Big Sit Team for the

Great Texas Birding Classic

“The Great Texas Birding Classic (GTBC), sponsored by the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, is a friendly, but serious birding for conservation tournament. It is held each year during April to coincide with the spectacular spring bird migration in Texas. During the tournament, teams vie to see who can spot and record the most bird species in a given time period. The adult teams with the highest species counts win the privilege of choosing the conservation projects that will be awarded Conservation Grant Grand Prizes.

To date, the GTBC has contributed $686,000 directly to avian habitat conservation along the Texas gulf coast through the Conservation Grant funding. Prior to each year’s competition, organizations submit conservation project proposals to win funding through the grants awarded by the winning teams.” from

Team: Groovy Billed Anis

Terry Fuller, Michael O’Brien, Marci Fuller, Scott Whittle, Ben Lizdasthe big sit Groovy billed Anis_006

Big Sit! Tournament Rules
• The Big Sit! Tournament will begin and end between midnight and midnight (a 24-hour calendar day) on
Sunday, April 25, 2010, regardless of the section of the coast birded.
• Teams with 1 to 10 people (all ages) watch birds from pre-defined 17-foot-diameter circles for up to 24 hours.
Circles can be anywhere within the 41-county Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail area.
• All teams will compete against each other, regardless of area birded.
• All birds must be confirmed by at least one team member. Only birds seen or heard from within the circle can
be counted.
• If a bird is seen or heard from within the circle but is too distant to identify, it is permissible to leave the circle
to get a closer look/listen for confirmation. However, any new bird seen or heard while confirming the original
can’t be counted unless it’s seen or heard from an “anchor” who stayed behind in your circle, or when you
return to your spot.
• The participants can work in shifts. No one person needs to be there throughout the whole Big Sit!
Tournament. You may leave and return to the area as frequently as desired, but you must be sure to return to
the exact spot each time. The same circle must be used for the entire Big Sit! Tournament.

the big sit Groovy billed Anis_013

Jeff and I arrived a bit later than we had intended, we stopped to do some birding at Sheepshead Road on the Island. Lots of new migrants were around, sparrows galore, it was hard to leave.

When we arrived the team was busy locating birds…some of the team members had been at the spot since midnight…

the big sit Groovy billed Anis_008

the big sit Groovy billed Anis_002

Jeff and I looked at the list and tried to find a few birds that the team needed.

We did spot at least one flycatcher for them, and pointed it out with my trusty mirror.

I use the mirror, by catching the sunlight, which then sends a beam of the reflected light in the direction i point the mirror..thus showing where the bird is.. I find it much easier than trying to describe where the bird is. The drawback is this only works when there is sunlight..wont work on cloudy days.

I would like to buy a laser pointer as well for those days when there is no sun.

The area was very birdie..lots of migrants coming thru…scads of sparrows and Kingbirds..I walked around hoping to see something needed by the team.

Yellow-breasted Chat

big sit birds_001 Acadian flycatcher…added to the listbig sit birds_025 Cedar waxwingbig sit birds_022 Summer Tanagerbig sit birds_030 This one seemed much darker than the Summers I have seen ..big sit birds_029big sit birds_031

I noticed a group of birders and photographers gathered ..

big sit birds_052 So I went to see what they were looking at..

at least fifty buntings..big sit birds_062

Painted and Indigobig sit birds_054One Lazuli buntingbig sit birds_056Butterflies were out and about…big sit birds_070 Ruby-crowned Kinglet

big sit birds_036 Chestnut-sided warblerbig sit birds_027This Great-tailed grackle cracked me up..It was doing this strange pose…lasting for a minute or looked like it was doing a yoga pose or faking an ailment…it repeated this pose over and over each time it stayed in the pose as if frozen in time..

The Black-bellied whistling duck thought the grackle was a bit of a show off..

big sit birds_023Starting to get dark…the team need more birds..

The Hooded warblers of last week are no where to be seen, neither are the Roseate Spoonbills.

the big sit Groovy billed Anis_012

Jeff and I take to the boardwalk in hopes of finding something new..

Short-billed Dowitchers-already listedbig sit birds_010 Black-bellied whistling duck –already listedbig sit birds_018Laughing Gulls –already listed

big sit birds_037 Great Blue Heron-already listedbig sit birds_050 Yellow-crowned night Heron –already listedbig sit birds_047Nothing new to add to the teams list..

The sun was setting…the big sit Groovy billed Anis_011A few thrushes decided to come out from under the brush.. one more tick to the list..

the big sit Groovy billed Anis_019

As the sunsets the team looks for silhouettes and listens for calling birds..

It was getting very exciting..I hear talk of just a few more birds needed for some record..would they get them?the big sit Groovy billed Anis_021The mosquitoes start to come out in droves,Jeff has a dental appointment in Mexico the next day so we decide to leave. It was difficult to pull ourselves away from this birding team..Amazing birders…

As we left they were watching the moon for passing migrating birds…and listening for bird calls.the big sit Groovy billed Anis_017

Their final count was record-breaking, and just shy of the all-time any-place Big Sit record

You can read here for all the Totals

The team won First place for number of species 143 species

Thanks Marci for inviting us to take part in the Big Sit. We may take you up on your offer and help again in 2012.


6 responses to “Padre Island Birding, The Big Sit

  1. Interesting post. Were the buntings picking up small stones to help their digestion? The grackle looks like it was anting.

  2. Wow, you really hit the jackpot there!

  3. Dawn! Thanks for posting this! I was following their progress from afar… sounds like a real blast! Michael was over last night building microphones with us to record nocturnal flight calls… Scott is continuing on his adventure through TX, up to Ohio and then back here after the World Series of Birding. You should come visit us in Cape May sometime!

    Enjoy your next adventure… and the next… and the next…



  4. Awesome post! I really liked the Summer Tanager pictures with the flowering tree!

  5. As always I enjoyed all the colorful birds you are seeing!

  6. Hilke Breder
    The buntings were eating seed that was put down for them.

    David la Puma
    thanks for stopping by..You guys are all crazy amazing was a blast hanging out with them and watching the process.
    Making microphones? you need to blog about that!

    Thanks Cindy..the Tanager was giving us a great show!!

    So glad you enjoy all the birdies!

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