Big Sits...

Subject: Big Sits...
From: "Tom Hince" <>
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 13:41:43 -0400
Have been reading with great interest the comments on Big Sits.

Over the years I have done at least a dozen Big Sits and have thoroughly
enjoyed them all. I've done all my Big Sits in two locations in southern
Ontario in central Canada. Both those locations are at well known migrant
traps along the Lake Erie shoreline - Point Pelee National Park and Holiday
Beach Conservation Area.

Here are few tips I have learned over the years that may be helpful:

. because the rules are pretty restrictive in terms of where you can go (5-6
metre diameter circle) you need to select your site VERY CAREFULLY or you
will find you cannot see areas you need to without leaving the circle. This
is easy to test on site with a dry run.

. as one member pointed out, try to pick a site with a range of habitats in
contact - for example, the site that I use most often has scrubby woodland,
distant tall trees, a wide expanse of open ponds and marshland, lake edge,
and a small pond all in view. It is also along the edge of Lake Erie - a
geographic feature which tends to collect and funnel migrating raptors and
songbirds right by the site I watch from - species totals at this site have
ranged from low 80s to 106 species depending on time of year.

. my prime site is at the top of a hawk watch tower - I spend the first two
or three hours pretty much on my own, or with a friend, and then a steady
procession of hawk watchers arrive at the tower an hour or two after
sunrise - this makes for lots of fun as anyone can spot new birds, and it
gives a focus for the activities for the day

. it often pays off to arrive at your big sit location before dawn - I
usually get two resident owl species and some nocturnal migrants by flight
call, and there is always a surprise or two in those early hours - its my
favourite time of day anyway so this is always a bonus

. as several folks have pointed out, its a great way to challenge yourself
and socialize at the same time - be sure to take lots to eat and drink,
sunscreen, a hat, etc.

. as someone pointed out scopes are definitely allowed, and you want to be
sure you pick a site where a scope will lever some additional birds

. while the event is definitely not as physically challenging as a big day,
it has all the elements of a big day in terms of birding challenge, with
more time actually actively birding, and certainly just as much enjoyment

. I would strongly recommend having several people involved in the event
simply because it increases the production, and also takes the pressure off
individuals who can then take a stroll or use the john.

. dont forget chairs, and if necessary something to provide some shade

In North America there is a formal big sit that takes place around the
second Sunday in October. The bad news is that I will miss the sit this
year. The good news is that I will be in Australia on a month long birding
trip! Will be spending time in Sydney area, Kakadu and NT, ALice Springs,
Adelaide, Melbourne and Tasmania.

If anyone has any questions about big sits I would be pleased to answer.

p.s. Just for the record I'm also a veteran of at least 50 Big Days and
according to my teammates you would be hard pressed to find someone more
fanatical about big days than me - and I'm still a fan of big sits.

Cheers, Tom

Tom Hince
Wild Rose Guest House
RR1, 21298 Harbour Road,
Wheatley, ON
N0P 2P0 Canada
[minutes from Point Pelee National Park]

(519) 825-9070 (ph)
(519) 825-9169 (fax)

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