Sequoia Audubon Society
                              San Mateo County, California

Sequoia Audubon's First Annual

Big Sit! Birdathon Pledge Drive
Sunday, October 9th

The Big Sit, October 9, 2011, Pescadero State Beach. Sequoia Audubon Society held its first annual fund-raiser Big Sit at Pescadero, on the hill overlooking the main marsh to the south, and the North Pond to the north. We had a remarkable day in every way, with over fifty participants through the day, and 103 total species in 12.5 hours. Donations exceeded our expectations, and are still welcome and accepted.


This year’s Big Sit results can be seen on the web page of the Big Sit’s sponsor, Bird Watcher’s Digest. -
Your Sequoia Audubon Society team, known as the SASsy Seawatchers, are currently in third place from among all the teams in the world for 2011! That’s quite a finish for our inaugural year: mark the date on your calendar for next year, when the Big Sit will be held October 14 (tentative – the Big Sit is usually the second Sunday in October).
The early team arrived a bit late, around 5:45 am, and promptly found themselves unable to discover the trailhead to the bridge. Some creative back-tracking brought the intrepid three of the SASsy Seawatchers — Al DeMartini, Cliff Hawley, and Jennifer Rycenga – to the designated spot atop the hill. The night bird pickings were slim: Great Horned Owl, Virginia Rail, and Marbled Murrelet. By the time there was enough light to see, Mark Kudrav arrived, locked his bike by the bridge (making all birds seen legitimate for his Big Green Year), and joined us as the species total began its precipitous rise. Indeed, the total had exceeded fifty birds by the time multiple participants climbed the hill. The addition of Leslie Flint, Ron Thorn, Leonie Batkin, Edwin Geer, JC Shaver, Pati Rouzer, Laurie Graham, Jeff Fairclough and Suzie Hons increased the number of angles covered by the team, and the bird list continued to grow, faster than the organizers had anticipated. Ron Thorn, sea-watcher extraordinaire, backed up by such fine sea-watchers as Leonie, Al DeMartini, and Mark Kudrav, mined the ocean for all it was worth, yielding Buller’s Shearwater, multiples of Pomarine and Parasitic Jaeger, Long-tailed Duck, Red-necked Grebe, and a Red Phalarope in the creek/lagoon that all were able to view and compare to nearby Red-necked Phalaropes. In the meantime, the sugary delights bestowed on the SASsy Seawatchers by Suzie and Pati – date bars and brownies, respectively – enhanced our viewing skill, honed our perspicacity, and filled our hungry stomachs.

Around noon, preparations began for the dedication of the bridge that made this site accessible. Nelle Lyons had brought together the five organizations involved in this 18-year project to have representatives present at the dedication: California State Parks, Sequoia Audubon Society, San Mateo Coast Natural History Association, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and the principal donors, Damasco and Associates LLP. While the bridge was being dedicated in a joyful manner, the various associations were giving literature and selling logo gear to park visitors, and the Big Sit SASsy Seawatchers team saw Red-necked Grebe and Sharp-shinned Hawk.
The ceremony was over, but the day had progressed to that place where finding new species would prove difficult. Unbeknownst to the team, due to some faulty counting, they were closer than they knew to the fabulous – and unforeseen – century mark. The best bird happened around 3:30. Jennifer Rycenga had seen a female Black Scoter (the second Black Scoter of the day), just as Matthew Dodder and his class approached. Wanting to re-find this unusual bird, Jennifer stepped to her scope, and, lo and behold, there in the surf floated a male adult Harlequin Duck! This unexpected sighting constituted a lifer for a few people, in addition to upping the count to ninety-six species. A highlight of the day.
The final shift consisted of five birders: Suzie Hons (who was the longest-staying team member aside from the organizer), Sue Rowinski, John Epperson, Garth Harwood, and Jennifer Rycenga. Together they kept thinking of missing species, straining to hear or see them, then finding a species they hadn’t thought of, such as Ring-necked Duck, Downy Woodpecker, and then, after being tantalized by distant birds on a wire, the team collectively identified the last added species of the day: Purple Finch. YES! Thinking that was species #100, the team triumphantly walked down the hill with all their gear, remaining food, and wonderful memories. More precise and detailed research revealed 102 identified species, plus one Swallow species, for a total of 103. Much better than originally conceived – in terms of species seen, in terms of level of participation (over fifty people took part, visited, or worked on the bridge dedication), and in terms of funds raised for Sequoia Audubon. The good will, the birding camaraderie, the cycles of freezing/baking, getting dewy/getting scorched, becoming frenetic with interesting birds/becoming bored with lack of birds – these cycles of the day were fun to share with each other.
The Big Sit participants: Pescadero, October 9, 2011
1. Al DeMartini – on site before dawn, notable birds incl. Surfbird, Pom. Jaeger,
2. Clifford Hawley – on site before dawn, notable birds incl. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Marbled Murrelet, Chestnut-backed Chickadee
3. Mark Kudrav – on site at dawn, notable birds incl. Western Meadowlark, Common Murre
4. Suzie Hons – on site from 8:30 to 5:30, notable birds incl. Swallow sp., baked and brought the date bars
5. Ron Thorn – on site around 8:00, notable birds incl. Buller’s Shearwater, Herring Gull, Long-tailed Duck, Red Phalarope, Red-necked Grebe
6. Leonie Batkin – on site around 8:00, notable birds incl. Black Oystercatcher (heroic!), Anna’s Hummingbird
7. Edwin Geer – SAS hospitality co-director made every one feel welcome
8. J.C. Shaver – SAS hospitality co-director made every one feel welcome
9. Leslie Flint – SAS board member, notable birds incl. Greater Yellowlegs
10. Ginny Marshall – SAS board member, helped run the SAS table
11. Chris MacIntosh – stopped by quickly, and brought some food
12. Pati Rouzer – stopped by briefly, with brownies she’d baked and a donation canister
13. Avis Boutell – from SMCNHA
14. Laurie Graham – SAS board member, helped run the SAS table, notable birds incl. Greater Yellowlegs
15. Jeff Fairclough – long-time SAS field trip co-leader, co-author of SMCBG entries
16. Peggy Macres – added birds on a hike outside of the circle that tantalized the SASsy Seawatchers all day (Golden-crowned Sparrow, Bewick’s Wren, Hermit Thrush)
17. Samantha Alarie-Leca – friend of Mark Kudrav’s
18. Katama Martellucci – friend of Mark Kudrav’s
19. Marie Landis – friend of Mark Kudrav’s
20. Logan Rosenberg – co-worker with Garth Harwood
21. Nelle Lyons – SAS board member, State Parks ranger, and organizer of the bridge dedication
22. Carol Masterson – former SAS president
23. Julia Damasco – former SAS president
24. Al Eisner – oft-teased future member of SAS; notable bird incl. definitive ID of California Towhee
25. Ruth Herring – friend of Jennifer Rycenga
26. Pam Peniston – friend of Jennifer Rycenga
27. Doug Brown
28. Stuart Schellberg – friend of Jennifer Rycenga
29. Gary Deghi  - former SAS vice-president and board member
30. Shari Deghi – environmental activist and long-time supporter of SAS
31. Matthew Dodder – designer of the much-appreciated and widely-applauded new logo for SAS
32. Kelly Dodder – in Matthew Dodder’s group
33. Vrishali Wagle – in Matthew Dodder’s group
34. Kay Partelow – in Matthew Dodder’s group
35. Cathy Brown – in Matthew Dodder’s group
36. Renée Fitzsimons – in Matthew Dodder’s group
37. Sonny Mencher – in Matthew Dodder’s group, and former SAS president
38. Melissa Hero – in Matthew Dodder’s group, and SAS board member
39. Caroline Lambert – in Matthew Dodder’s group
40. Kay Matthews – in Matthew Dodder’s group
41. Sue Rowinski – part of the ending shift; notable birds inc. Purple Finch
42. John Epperson – part of the ending shift; notable birds inc. Purple Finch
43. Garth Harwood – part of the ending shift; notable birds inc. Purple Finch
44. Jennifer Rycenga – out from 6:00 am to 6:30 pm; notable birds inc. Harlequin Duck, Dunlin, Purple Finch
45. Visitors who didn’t stay long included at least eight hikers and four people from the bridge dedication ceremony

Thank you for your donation!

The Big Sit – the species in chronological order – October 9, 2011 – Pescadero
1. Great Horned Owl (6:15 am)
2. Marbled Murrelet
3. Western Scrub-Jay
4. Marsh Wren
5. Virginia Rail
6. Spotted Towhee
7. Song Sparrow
8. Mallard
9. Brown Pelican
10. Band-tailed Pigeon
11. Western Gull
12. California Gull
13. Wrentit
14. Brandt’s Cormorant
15. Killdeer
16. Sooty Shearwater
17. Parasitic Jaeger
18. Surf Scoter
19. Common Loon
20. White-winged Scoter
21. Great Egret
22. Black Phoebe
23. Surfbird
24. Great Blue Heron
25. Gadwall
26. American Wigeon
27. Eared Grebe
28. American Coot
29. Heermann’s Gull
30. Northern Flicker
31. Common Yellowthroat
32. Pied-billed Grebe
33. Double-crested Cormorant
34. Pelagic Cormorant
35. Common Merganser
36. Snowy Egret
37. Whimbrel
38. American Goldfinch
39. Northern Harrier
40. Nuttall’s Woodpecker
41. Least Sandpiper
42. Lesser Goldfinch
43. Red-throated Loon
44. Pacific Loon
45. Savannah Sparrow
46. White-crowned Sparrow
47. Lincoln’s Sparrow
48. Belted Kingfisher
49. Pomarine Jaeger
50. Dunlin
51. Chestnut-backed Chickadee
52. Western Grebe
53. Red-winged Blackbird
54. Western Meadowlark
55. European Starling
56. Sanderling
57. Northern Pintail
58. Northern Shoveler
59. Green-winged Teal
60. Yellow-rumped Warbler
61. Buller’s Shearwater
62. Common Murre
63. Red-tailed Hawk
64. White-tailed Kite
65. Brewer’s Blackbird
66. Herring Gull
67. Elegant Tern
68. Black-bellied Plover
69. Anna’s Hummingbird
70. American Pipit
71. Greater White-fronted Goose
72. Long-tailed Duck
73. Clark’s Grebe
74. Cinnamon Teal
75. Black Turnstone (9:40 am)
76. Red Phalarope
77. Ruddy Duck
78. Turkey Vulture
79. Red-necked Phalarope
80. American Kestrel
81. Black Scoter
82. Say’s Phoebe
83. Greater Scaup (originally Scaup sp., revised when a Greater was definitive)
84. Common Raven
85. House Finch (10:20 am)
86. Peregrine Falcon
87. Orange-crowned Warbler
88. Greater Yellowlegs (11:20 am)
89. Black Oystercatcher
90. Long-billed Dowitcher (originally Dowitcher sp, revised when a LB call heard)
91. Red-shouldered Hawk
92. Brown-headed Cowbird (12:40 pm)
93. American Crow
94. Red-necked Grebe (2:00 pm)
95. Sharp-shinned Hawk
96. California Towhee
97. Harlequin Duck (3:20 pm)
98. Lesser Yellowlegs
99. Swallow sp.
100.  Hairy Woodpecker
101.  Ring-necked Duck
102.  Downy Woodpecker
103.  Purple Finch (6:25 pm)
The species in alphabetic order by full name, first name first
American Coot
American Crow
American Goldfinch
American Kestrel
American Pipit
American Wigeon
Anna’s Hummingbird
Band-tailed Pigeon
Belted Kingfisher
Black Oystercatcher
Black Phoebe
Black Scoter
Black Turnstone
Black-bellied Plover
Brandt’s Cormorant
Brewer’s Blackbird
Brown Pelican
Brown-headed Cowbird
Buller’s Shearwater
California Gull
California Towhee
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Cinnamon Teal
Clark’s Grebe
Common Loon
Common Merganser
Common Murre
Common Raven
Common Yellowthroat
Double-crested Cormorant
Downy Woodpecker
Eared Grebe
Elegant Tern
European Starling
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Great Horned Owl
Greater Scaup
Greater White-fronted Goose
Greater Yellowlegs
Green-winged Teal
Hairy Woodpecker
Harlequin Duck
Heermann’s Gull
Herring Gull
House Finch
Least Sandpiper
Lesser Goldfinch
Lesser Yellowlegs
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Long-billed Dowitcher
Long-tailed Duck
Marbled Murrelet
Marsh Wren
Northern Flicker
Northern Harrier
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Nuttall’s Woodpecker
Orange-crowned Warbler
Pacific Loon
Parasitic Jaeger
Pelagic Cormorant
Peregrine Falcon
Pied-billed Grebe
Pomarine Jaeger
Purple Finch
Red Phalarope
Red-necked Grebe
Red-necked Phalarope
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-throated Loon
Red-winged Blackbird
Ring-necked Duck
Ruddy Duck
Savannah Sparrow
Say’s Phoebe
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Snowy Egret
Song Sparrow
Sooty Shearwater
Spotted Towhee
Surf Scoter
Swallow sp.
Turkey Vulture
Virginia Rail
Western Grebe
Western Gull
Western Meadowlark
Western Scrub-Jay
White-crowned Sparrow
White-tailed Kite
White-winged Scoter
Yellow-rumped Warbler
The species in taxonomic order, with Latin names and numbers (this is the eBird record)
Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)  32   
Gadwall (Anas strepera)  12
American Wigeon (Anas americana)  15
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  35
Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)  4
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)  130
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  300
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  4
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  2
Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)  1
Greater/Lesser Scaup (Aythya marila/affinis)  15
Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)  1
Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)  570
White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca)  2
Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)  2
Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)  1
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  6
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  22
Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)  5
Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)  6
Common Loon (Gavia immer)  9
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  5
Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)  14
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)  22
Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii)  2
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)  2
Buller's Shearwater (Puffinus bulleri)  2
Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus)  33
Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus)  75
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  20
Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)  4
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)  65
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  3
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  6
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)  2
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  4
White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)  25
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  8
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)  1
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)  2
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  9
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  3
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)  2
Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)  3
American Coot (Fulica americana)  18
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)  12
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  6
Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)  1
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  6
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)  1
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)  10
Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala)  3
Surfbird (Aphriza virgata)  1
Sanderling (Calidris alba)  18
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  1
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)  12
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)  1
Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus/scolopaceus)  5
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)  8
Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius)  1
Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni)  40
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis)  80
California Gull (Larus californicus)  35
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  4
Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans)  34
Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus)  6
Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus)  7
Common Murre (Uria aalge)  17
Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)  2
Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata)  3
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)  2
Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  2
Nuttall's Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)  8
Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya)  2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  2
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  6
swallow sp. (Hirundinidae sp.)  1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Poecile rufescens)  2
Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)  5
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata)  4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  12
American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)  3
Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata)  1
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  3
California Towhee (Melozone crissalis)  1
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  8
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  10
Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)  1
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  6
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  2
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  3
Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  6
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  2
Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus)  5
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)  8
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  4
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  6

Thank You for Your Support of the Big Sit's 100+ Species Day!


 Sequoia Audubon Society’s First Annual
Big Sit! Birdathon Pledge Drive
October 9, 2011

The Big Sit is an all-day birding event, in which bird-watchers try to see as many species as possible from one designated spot. This year, for the first time, Sequoia Audubon Society will field an open-ended team of birders — dubbed the SASsy Seawatchers — for this international event. Our chosen spot is the observation area at the top of the hill overlooking the North Pond at Pescadero State Beach. This hill can be accessed using the new bridge that SAS helped purchase and install. The SASsy Seawatchers — a team of friendly, skilled, and fun-loving birders, including (we hope) YOU — will be on the hillside all day, spotting bird species and having a grand rollicking time doing so. There will be a table with food and drink, and radios to listen to football and baseball playoff games, lots of people with cameras to take pictures of the birds and the birders. Be there! You can show up at any hour, and you can stay for as long or as short as you like.

Anyone, of any skill level, can participate. You can be a part of the bird-watching team, helping to accumulate a high team species total for the day. You can also pledge an amount per species seen; e.g., if you pledge $1.00 per species, and the team sees sixty species over the course of the day, your pledge would equal $60.00. Third, you can help collect pledges towards the event’s total. You can do any combination of these three activities, too, even all three of them! Enthusiastic participation is encouraged: let’s help the birds we love!

All the funds raised in this pledge drive stay right here in San Mateo county, to aid in Sequoia Audubon’s mission: protecting native birds and other wildlife and their ecosystems by engaging people of all ages in conservation, education, advocacy and enjoyment.

Prizes: The top three fund-raisers (by total dollar amount) will win a seat on a 2012 pelagic birding trip out of HMB, or, if mal de mer prohibits, a personal birding day with members of the Sequoia Audubon Society board at a San Mateo location. All fundraisers who raise over $100 in pledges, and any individual who donates $100 or more, will receive a choice of a new Sequoia Audubon Society cap or shirt, featuring our new logo.

More on the Big Sit! This is the seventeenth annual Big Sit, an event in which birders detect as many species as possible from within a 17.5 foot diameter circle. Described as “the equivalent of a tail-gating party for birders,” the Big Sit not only creates birding camaraderie, but it also helps us to learn one location very very well! See Bird Watcher's Digest for past results, the rules, photos, and the light-hearted dimensions of the event. Enjoy the fun, be a part of the SASsy Seawatchers, and help Sequoia Audubon Society to help the birds.


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