[Ontbirds] Fred Bodsworth Memorial Whimbrel Watch

Tim McCarthy timmccarthy_5 at hotmail.com
Tue May 26 20:29:06 EDT 2015

From: Tim McCarthy via Ontbirds
Hi Everybody
Just wanted to point out before the  numbers start rolling that I have established sort of a reporting format which I hope you will let me keep. I know that some of you object to my conversational style while many others say they look forward to reading my stuff. Far from being swayed one way or another or bowing out completely I am going to try and please everyone. 
Those of you who want just the numbers so they can go running off and hopefully join us will get them up front from now on. Those who wish to see some commentary will hopefully receive that too in the second half of my report. Since everyone who reads any of this be they experienced or not presumably are all on the same side I find it ridiculous that there should be any controversy over anything but songs and plumage. 
Today was a pretty good day on the Point even though rather late in the Whimbrel Window. We had 110 birds by 7:30 and at 12:15 3 separate flocks joined over Marie Curtis Park to make a total of 180 birds. So the day total was 290. And the grand total so far I make 3400.
Other standouts were Common Loon 16, White winged Scoter 9, Semi-palmated Sandpiper 24, Dunlin 41 (where did all the other thousands go) Least Sandpiper 24 and 2 Common Goldeneye.
We had hoped for landings by the Peeps either at our feet or down below Pipit point but they moved on. 
Lots of Blackpoll Warblers around so - can you believe it - that is the end of the Spring Warblers.
Thanks to our stalwarts, Monique Fischer, Joe Ventura, Tom Lane, Bruce Wilkinson, Brian Gibson, Joan Winearls, Barbara Kalthoff, John and Eva Thresher and  a very welcome beginner from New York, Carlmais Johnson. And thanks from yesterday to the folks from the Rosetta Mclean and the High Park Hawkwatches who came out to show us Whimbies how to do it. Have I ever got some ideas for you guys this September so don't leave town.
As you all know by now yesterday marked a new page in the Wimbrel Rulebook. It seems they have finally decided to land for a rest in places and at times which did not suit them in the past. We have seen this coming for a couple of years.
 Now it sure is a thrill to have 63 Whimbrels land nearby and rest for a couple of hours but it also poses some new problems.  For numerous reasons we would not dare stop them from landing, in fact their doing so is kind of a feather in our cap. Obviously they land because they need to. Once rested for a while they will join a new flock coming over. That is why I think so many flocks that we see circle around and call so much. Far from being a waste of energy, by flying and calling they are recruiting fallouts from previous flocks to join them. Flocking like that confers many advantages like more eyes and ears, learning from the Elders, finding food, safety from predators, butt drafting, mutual encouragement and if you fall out of one flock and get picked up by another, a possible shuffling of genetic diversity. But now we know that are likely to land more often and in significant numbers I feel that we should encourage them to do it and defend and protect them while they are resting on the land. We now have the opportunity to help conserve the species not just by keeping track of their numbers but by actually physically guarding them. We also have a wonderful opportunity to attract birders and almost birders (where else did you think the wave of the future would come from) and educate them.
Its time to put our heads into this and come up with something besides GeeWhiz. One thing that is here to stay for sure sad to say is the dog off the leash. When somebody has been letting their dog run loose for years and they see everybody else doing it there is no way they are going to pay attention to a city bylaw that says dogs should be leashed. There is no way our tiny voices raised however high will ever be listened to.  And there is no way the city is going to enforce that bylaw as they dont have the manpower. Its up to us. We can help do it by putting up  signage like Temporary natural area no dogs allowed kind of thing but we have to do it ourselves, the City will not deviate from their multi-usage policy. 
So lets get out he hammer and nails and whack a few sawhorses together with some signs on them for next year to block the paths to sensitive areas. I have been told by Brian Keaveney, President of Friends of Sam Smith, that we should do this. There should be a great big sign contest.
  Another tactic we can employ is direct confrontation but judging by what I hear birders have been saying to dog walkers for years gone by we need to learn a heckuva lot about what we are going to say to the public before we confront them in any way. Yesterday I got the opportunity to try some experimental tact , education and binocular lending  and lo and behold it worked wonders. So that would be five or so over to our side and a thousand or so to go.
 Confrontation breeds contempt, public activism attracts negative publicity but the conservation of a declining species, although it should be beyond any and all argument is a pretty hard thing to achieve when we have to work at it ourselves in a tiny little area that gets used for so many different things. What we have going for us is our knowledge, our passion, and the surety that if we do this thing right, we really can make a difference. 
We are now collecting your ideas and  your able bodies for next years : Fred Bodsworth Memorial say Hello to Whimbrels Up Close Watch.
Now if you haven't had enough yet I will be out at the Point weather permitting until Sunday.  There are still some flocks to come.
See you there,

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