Birding and Exercise – January Big Day

In the spirit of Ted Floyd’s Big Walk http://blog.aba.org/2013/06/the-bare-naked-big-walk.html and Greg Neise and Jeff Skrentny Illinois Monthly Big Days (See Illinois Birders’ Forum http://www.ilbirds.com/), I have decided to do a monthly self-powered Big Day this year.  I will start this month by walking but I’m sure it will turn into a Bike – Walk when the weather improves.  The forecast this Saturday is calling for a high in the 20’s with snow and wind, and Sunday a little warmer with lighter wind but still snow.  So either day I won’t be biking.

My main reason for doing a Big Day of any sort is what you may find.  Just like my earlier post on the more hours you spend in the field during a month the more species you will find http://wp.me/p3Q2lz-30, almost every Big Day I have done I have ended finding something special. I am sure it has to do with being out 10-12 hours in a day instead of the usual 3-4 hours.

A White-winged Scoter that Ted Hartzler and I found during a Big Day in Northern Illinois in March 2011.  We found it on a small pond scanning through a large flock of scaup.  Scoters are rare inland in Illinois away from Lake Michigan.

A White-winged Scoter that Ted Hartzler and I found during a Big Day in Northern Illinois in March 2011. We found it on a small pond scanning through a large flock of scaup. Scoters are rare inland in Illinois away from Lake Michigan.

The hardest part won’t be the weather or actual physical exercise, but like with all Big Days, it will be on deciding the route.  And since I will be walking there won’t be any chance to go back and hit any areas.  Plus I will probably only have one chance to visit the different habitats.  So each stop will have to pay off.

Thus far this month I have seen 41 species on my weekend walks.  So a goal of seeing 40 seems like a reasonable goal. But if the local pond freezes over in the next couple of days of below zero temperature, then I will be out of luck and 35 might be a better goal.  But if it stays open then the waterfowl might be congregated there with hopefully a large variety of different species and my final total might just surprise me!

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