The Carden Challenge
Our team (The Lagerheads) had two goals coming into this year’s Carden Challenge (for those who haven’t read my last blog update, this is a 24 hour birding/natural history fundraiser for the Couchiching Conservancy). The primary focus was to raise funds for the challenge, and second, to reclaim the cup! We won in 2009 but have only been able to make the podium over the past few years.
Photos: The Carden Plain
With some scouting earlier in the week and a solid game plan we felt confident in our chances. The skies were clear and sunny, but we had to deal with a brisk northerly wind the first evening. The wind calmed down in the evening, giving way to a spectacular moonrise. Saturday morning was great for birding, but by the afternoon it was once again quite windy. So the birding alternated between fantastic and challenging.
New birds for my Big Year included:
SORA, UPLAND SANDPIPER, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, ALDER & WILLOW FLYCATCHER, BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO and LEAST BITTERN. I also added COMMON NIGHTHAWK a few days before the challenge up at Q.U.B.S.
Other bird highlights included a second-year Orchard Oriole (rare in this part of Ontario), several raptor and shorebird species, and 20 warbler species (including spectacular views of a Mourning Warbler singing from an exposed perch).
Our non-bird highlight was watching a Smooth Green Snake sunning itself on Wylie Road. It has been a few years since I have seen one of these stunning snakes.
Photo: Smooth Green Snake sunning on Wylie Road
At the end of the day we ended up finding 133 species. This was a new record for our team, and enough to win the The Carden Challenge Cup. It was great birding, with great company. We are already looking forward to next year!
With the end of May rapidly approaching, I am sitting at 285 species. I hope to get close to 300 before I set out on a 6 week road trip through the prairies and up to the Yukon and British Columbia. It is going to be awesome!