A week from today on Monday May 14th, Utah Birders Jeff Bilsky, Kenny Frisch, and I are going to attempt to break the current Utah Big Day Record of 202 species set by Colby Neuman, Mark Stackhouse, and David Wheeler on May 13, 2001. A Big Day Count is a single-team effort in which the primary objectives are (1) to identify as many bird species as possible during a single calendar day and (2) to strive to have all team members identify all species recorded. (ABA: Big Day Count Rules).
This appears to be the first official Utah Big Day in more than a decade although it's hard to keep track of these things. This years migration, weather, and timing look to be pretty good for a big day although it's hard to tell what they day will be like until it's actually happening. We will start the day at midnight in Washington County and spend the first 10 hours of the day visiting numerous locations around the county. We will be scouring various spots in the dark trying to pick up nightjars, owls, marsh birds, and a number of songbirds typically active during the early hours of the day. Lytle Ranch is a must as well as several other spots that will provide our early morning birding before we start the nearly 400 mile trek that will take them from St. George, up I-15 to the very northern tip of the state. The afternoon and evening will be spent trying to add those species which aren't present in Washington County this time of year or at all.
By the end of the day we will have traveled more than 600 miles and from 2700' at Lytle Ranch to over 9,000' in elevation in the Wasatch Mountains. Being our first Utah Big Day we have high hopes that our route will provide us with the maximum exposure to habitat and birds--but anticipate it will be far from easy and probably push us to the extremes in what is the most hectic and draining birding there is. It's a competition but for me it is also a chance to be able to travel our great state from one end to another in one day and see/hear as much as possible. The ultimate gluttony for birding.
You will be able to follow us as we make constant updates from the field via twitter at:
We will also try to have a live blog going with more in depth updates as the day progresses at:
We hope it's a very big--big day.