Hard to believe 2020 marks the third year of October Big Day, a global 24-hour event for birdwatchers around the world to watch and report all the birds they’ve seen.
This year had an added bonus for October Big Day, this weekend was also the first Global Bird Weekend.
I’ve participated every year and was happy it didn’t rain this year like it did for my first October Big Day in 2018.
Word has spread about the fun you can have birding!
The first year, over 13,000 people participated. In 2019, more than 20,000 people participated in Global Big Day.
And for 2020, I joined almost 29,000 people in submitting 66,843 checklists of 6,799 species (as of October 18, 2020 at 6:30pm Eastern Time).
Typically birders are very social on the trails, but with the COVID pandemic, we’ve been birding mindfully, putting safety first and following local health guidelines to stay safe.
People have until October 20, 2020 to submit their checklists, so there may be even more people who participate.
My 2020 October Big Day
My day started with bright sunshine and chilly temperatures in southeast Michigan.
I stayed inside during the early morning temperatures of mid-30 degrees Farenheit until 8:30am, watching our regular bird visitors—American Goldfinches, Downy Woodpecker, House Finches, and American Robins—in our yard.
After finishing breakfast, I visited some of my favorite birding sites: Belle Isle State Park, Kensington Metropark, and Robert H. Long Park to explore the trails and discover birds.
On the way to Belle Isle, I saw a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a utility pole. Nice!
At my first stop at the park, I met up with other birders in the parking lot, where I saw my first Hermit Thrush of the year feeding on berries nearby.
As it turns out, I saw six Hermit Thrush.
Which is a bit unusual, but I learned that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources was clearing out shrubs and trees, flushing the birds into areas where they were more easily seen.
I spent the morning exploring Belle Isle, took a break for lunch as I enjoyed the bright sunshine and warmer temperatures in the mid-50’s.
In the afternoon, I split my time birding at Robert H. Long Park and Kensington Metropark.
By the time I arrived at Robert H. Long Park, clouds had replaced the blue sky and bright sunshine. That didn’t stop me from finding the Wilson’s Snipe, a rare bird to be found in our area.
Check out that long bill!
When two photographers came down the trail, I asked them if they had seen the snipe in the pond they had just passed by.
They didn’t know the bird was at the park, so I showed them where to find it. They were thrilled to see it!
My October Big Day ended at dusk when I was pleasantly surprised to find hundreds of American Coots and Ruddy Ducks, along with a few dozen Redhead swimming near the shore of Kent Lake at Kensington Park.
I saw 40 species for the day and over 1,000 birds.
What a wonderful day of birding!