2021 HAS Big Sit Field Trip Report by Jay Kaplan

2021 HAS Big Sit Field Trip Report –     October 10, 2021

Six members and friends of the Hartford Audubon Society met on the Society’s Platform at Station 43, South Windsor before dawn on Sunday, October 10, 2021 to participate in the annual “Big Sit.”  Conceived and administered by the New Haven Bird Club, the objective of the Big Sit is to count as many bird species as possible from the confines of a 17’ diameter circle on a day during the second weekend in October.  Our HAS Big Sit was initiated over 20 years ago by former HAS President, Betty Kleiner.  This year’s “Sit” would be an abbreviated version as much of our group had work and other responsibilities later that day.  Dawn at Station 43, however, is nothing short of exhilarating, as the early morning hours usually provide the greatest excitement.   There is no place I’d rather be!


As per usual, our day began with a few snippets of song here and there, as sparrows, wrens and other birds began to stir.  Unfortunately, there were no owls to be hard this morning.  The wood ducks soon began to make their presence known.  The Connecticut River Valley is a prime migration corridor for these beautiful ducks, and we can usually count hundreds of silhouettes moving across our view as dawn approaches.  Smaller, and utilizing a different flight pattern than the occasional mallards and black ducks, the “woodies” are too numerous to even count and they did not disappoint!  The weather forecast this day was not ideal.  It was warm, humid, and the sky was overcast.  With no wind, it had not been a good night for songbird migration.  An exception was a substantial movement of red-winged blackbirds.  When watching blackbird flocks, one must be vigilant for the odd species or two mixing in. Vigilance, however, was unnecessary for the single rusty blackbird that dropped into the brush directly in front of us, then flew into a tree adjacent to the platform and chortled, providing everyone with a nice view.


The other species that was moving in big numbers on this day was Canada Geese.  Sharp-eyed Annette Pasek noted a single snow goose in one of the skeins of Canadas as they headed southward.  It was to be the only non-Canada goose out of the thousands that moved past us that morning.   By 9 AM, it was determined that we would end our abbreviated Big Sit.  Two of us had to go to work, and another had already left for Maine.  Late highlights included two juvenile northern harriers and a calling pileated woodpecker.   It should be noted that the rain that was supposed to arrive by mid-morning never materialized.  The forecast was, however, enough to deter any other birders from making the trip into the marsh that day.

Jay Kaplan

Big Sit Birds

  1. Snow Goose
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Wood Duck
  4. American Black
  5. Mallard
  6. Killdeer
  7. Northern Harrier
  8. Cooper’s Hawk
  9. Red-tailed Hawk
  10. Mourning Dove
  11. Yellow-bellied Woodpecker
  12. Red-bellied Sapsucker
  13. Downy Woodpecker
  14. Pileated Woodpecker
  15. Northern Flicker
  16. Eastern Phoebe
  17. Blue Jay
  18. American Crow
  19. Tree Swallow
  20. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  21. House Wren
  22. Marsh Wren
  23. CarolinaWren
  24. European Starling
  25. Gray Catbird
  26. American Robin
  27. American Pipit
  28. White-throated Sparrow
  29. Song Sparrow
  30. Swamp Sparrow
  31. Red-winged Blackbird
  32. Rusty Blackbird
  33. Common Blackbird
  34. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  35. Northern Cardinal


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