The Barrett Boys Spot A Whimbrel

All I can say, is “Wow, what a day!”

We woke up at 4:30 this morning to get a headstart on the day, and to make sure we were at West Point Lake when the sun came up. The kids jumped out of bed as soon as I woke them up, and we were all in the truck, on our way by 5:00 am.

The trip to West Point was a good one, as JM spotted a Whimbrel sitting in a tree on the beach next to the Dam.

Whimbrel #5

 

Whimbrel #3

 

The Whimbrel is a coastal bird which breeds across much of subarctic North America, Europe, and Asia. It migrates in the winter to coasts in Africa, South America, Australia and southern parts of North America. They don’t normal make a stopover in inland lakes, let alone one as far inland as West Point Lake here in Georgia.

The boys did great all day, as we traveled from West Point Lake to the Newman Wetland Center and the E.L. Huie ponds, to the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, and Jackson Lake. We arrived at the finish line, the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, about an hour and a half early, so we took the opportunity to bird the grounds there and they added eight more species to their list before we turned it in before 5:00 pm.

The highlight of the night, for JM, was meeting his birding “hero”, Giff Beaton, the author of “Birding Georgia”. Giff signed his book, and was excited to see the photos of the Whimbrel JM spotted at West Point.

At one point, Giff stole my camera! Well, he didn’t really steal it, but he took off with it to show other people. This was only the fifth time that a Whimbrel had been spotted inland in the state of Georgia, and it was the furthest inland too. It was a great find, in fact, for all of us, it was the find of the day.

After everyone checked in we got to eat dinner! Lasagna, macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, salad, potato skins, broccoli and cheese, dinner rolls, cookies, cheesecake, iced tea and lemonade. It was awesome! As everyone finished dinner we got to see a reptile show and then they handed out prizes.

Our boys, known as Team Swift in the competition, turned in a bird list containing 94 species of birds. They finished in second place for their division, and they each won a pair of Eagle Optics Binoculars.

The Youth Birding Competition was an awesome experience, for our kids as well as ourselves. I was stunned at the number of kids who are really into birding, and I was equally as stunned by the tremendous job that Tim Keyes and his team of people did to pull off such a wildly successful event.

After I decompress, I hope to post more photos of the birds we saw. When I post them, I will put them on my flickr page, of course.

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Let’s Go Birding!

Today was the official start of the 5th Annual Youth Birding Competition. The boys have spent the past three months waiting for this trip. By waiting, I mean asking me if today is the day, marking the day off on their calendar, checking all of their birding equipment (field guides, binoculars, spotting scopes), and asking if we can “practice” a bit before the big day.

We’ve practiced the past several weeks, taking small trips to locations on the weekends, getting them acclimated to quick identification. We’ve spent time at Carter’s Lake, the Bartow County Loop, Tanner State Park, Sweetwater Creek State Park, West Point Dam, and every place in-between those locations.

Well, after just three hours of birding today (the competition started at 5:00 pm), the three boys spotted and identified 54 species of birds.

Black And White Warbler

 

Blue-Headed Vireo

 

Orchard Oriole

 

We started the competition up at Fort Mountain State Park and worked our way down to the dam at Carter’s Lake. We spent some time below the dam, in the sparrow field, and over at the lower re-regulation dam. Before it got too late, we made our way back down to the Bartow County Loop, where they have been “practicing”.

The best part of the day, was the fact that all I had to do was drive. It was their job to spot the birds and identify them.

Tomorrow is going to be a much longer day, as we have to get up early so we can begin our day down at West Point Dam. I’ll post more when we return tomorrow night.

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