Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blockbusting weekend in SE Ohio

I spent this last weekend camping with my bird group in Lawrence County, Ohio. We were participating in an activity called "blockbusting" - which is when a group of birders volunteer to go out and survey a large number of survey blocks for the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas that would otherwise get little coverage. We had a great weekend. The camping was good and the birding was excellent.

I was teamed with John Habig, a birder I had not met before but recognized from his posts to the Ohio Birds email list. We surveyed six blocks in 15 hours of birding over two days. We confirmed breeding for 22 species of birds out of 76 observed, including interesting birds like Blue-winged Warbler, Ovenbird, and Orchard Oriole. Our two highlights were a territorial White-throated Sparrow and a territorial Black-and-white Warbler.

The absolute highlight for the group, however, was a find of four Yellow-crowned Night Herons at a farm pond in Gallia county. There are only two other records in the atlas of this species and only one of those is a confirmation (strangely, it seems that the breeding colony in Columbus has not yet been entered into the atlas website application, so that's a total of two confirmed breeding locations). Hopefully, someone will be able to go back a little later and see some fledged young.

I highly recommend participating in breeding bird surveys - it's as fun as birding during migration, and maybe even more of a challenge.

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