This past May, a fair part of the birding world celebrated Global Big Day, Costa Rica included. Thanks to a winning blend of organization, coordination, and enthusiasm, we surpassed our goals. Of the species that were possible, that were feasible, more than 300 birders in Costa Rica identified nearly 90%. We had a such a collective great time, the enthusiasm carried over into the following post GBD calendar, many of us expressing interest in doing another one this same year.
Black-crowned Tityra is one of more than 680 species found in Costa Rica in Global Big Day, 2018. Widespread but uncommon, we could easily miss it.
We weren’t the only ones wanting more GBD action. Not long after, eBird announced another Global Big Day for later in 2018, October 6th to be exact and why not? The only requirement is convincing people to watch birds on the same date and eBird everything. Even better, in Costa Rica, a lot of the species that weren’t present in May are back and waiting to be counted! Maybe not the rare ducks or vagrant Cedar Waxwings but most of everything else. That said, I doubt we will identify as many species as we did in May because we just don’t have the same degree of participation. Although that could change between now and the end of this week, so far, it looks like we might lack coverage in more than a few parts of the country. There will be some last minute participation and all eBird data will count but will it be enough to identify 700 species?
There’s only one way to find out and I’ll be doing my part. Oddly enough, as enthused as I am about having an excuse to lose myself in birding for 24 hours, I’m still not exactly sure which route I will take, where I will be straining to hear call notes at night, and where I will practice some serious kung-fu birding (Eagle Claw style of course). But, I will be birding in Costa Rica somewhere and do plan on identifying as much as I can. Part of the problem is too many great places to choose from. Fortunately, I don’t have to do a lot of planning because I already have two possible routes arranged and know where most of the birds are likely to be. These are some other things I need to do to prepare myself for this next adventure in birding:
Review warbler call notes
Not that I will hear any flying through the night skies but one can never be over prepped for a Global Big Day! Actually, I don’t pretend to be able to identify tiny passerines by their nocturnal flight calls but I do plan on finding them via chip notes during the day. Kentucky, Hooded, the waterthrushes, Worm-eating…they all announce their presence with distinct vocalizations as do the rare ones that don’t usually make Costa Rica a winter destination. Those would be local mega bird finds like Black-throated Blue, Palm, and Prairie Warblers as well as other species with a winter preference for Caribbean isles. BUT, since the chances of finding them increase ever so slightly by knowing their calls, listening time this week will include the notes of those hidden wood-warblers.
It might be a good year for Cape-Mays and maybe Bay-breasteds too, I hope we see them on October 6th.
Remember to listen for snipe, cuckoos, and thrushes
Ah yes, listen carefully to the night sky and hopefully pick up more birds for GBD October. I have yet to hear a cuckoo call when they fly over Costa Rica but it must happen and I will be listening. I have heard all possible thrushes, snipe, and Upland Sandpiper in the past, I hope they vocalize overhead on October 6th, even more so, I hope it doesn’t rain! Sound daunting? Maybe not as much as one might think. Check out these study materials for nocturnal flight calls.
Remind myself to stick to Zen birding
In other words, take the day as it comes, roll with it, go with the flow. I hope I can follow the advice of slogans meant to keep one from succumbing to frustration and emitting a choice set of New York vocabulary at the truck blocking the road, or the rain slamming into the soil. There will be no frustration on GBD, only birds and feeling grateful for what we all hear and see. Amen. Keep it Zen, focus on the birds, and stick to the schedule. I hope so, but maybe I should bring some organic chocolate to help with the Zen…
Buy birding supplies
As in beverages that have caffeine. Treat yourself to a few favorite such energy drinks and stay alert (or simply awake!) to better celebrate this day of birding. Dream birds don’t count and if you fall asleep while driving, it won’t just be the end of your GBD. High quality chocolate is also important as are favorite snacks, fruit, charged batteries, and clean optics. Oh yeah, and remember to bring sunglasses and proper birdingwear (like count shirts, Wunderbird shirts, or whatever works best).
The more one scouts, the more birds will be seen. Now if I could just find time for scouting. Regular life takes up time and rightly so, you gotta be there for progeny. Furthermore, if you forsake the offspring for scouting, forget about them ever becoming birders (which is of course the main hope and goal of every serious birder, Zen or not)! Fortunately, since I guide a fair bit on the routes I have in mind, I sort of scout them on a regular basis anyways. eBird also helps! I hope I do scout a bit though because knowing where fruiting trees are located and where wintering species have set up territories are of great help.
GBD October is nigh and although I need some supplies, could use more scouting, and need to figure out where my Team Tyto will bird, I’m still ready to rock, bird, and roll! As some world birders say, “Bring it”! As I say right now (and may indeed some day regret), “Kung-fu birding will be in the house on October 6th”!
Check out where some other teams will be birding in Costa Rica on October 6th!