My Recovery Big Year & The Delaware Bird-A-Thon
If you’ve been following my Recovery Big Year posts, then you probably know that my two absolute favorite things in life are: 1) exploring natural locations and 2) bird watching. Adventuring and birding have served as the most powerful motivators in my recovery, and as an endless source of hope, optimism, and positivity in my life. Back when I was bedridden, wanting to watch the birds visiting the feeder outside my window would motivate me to sit up in a chair, regardless of how short of breath and dizzy the activity and eye movements would make me. Today, as I continue to recover, bird watching inspires me to fight for my health, and to expand my physical limits by visiting more and more distant birding hotspots.
In all of this, I am very fortunate to live close to one of the best birding destinations in the world– the state of Delaware.
Delaware is the perfect place for birds, birders, and birding. Why? In a word: habitat. In the state’s 2,000 miles of land, you’ll find piedmont and coastal plains covered with expansive saltwater and freshwater marshes. Essentially, the entire coastline of Delaware is of global ecological significance, providing habitat for hundreds of species of birds that depend on its existence.
The species probably most closely linked to Delaware and it’s critical coastal habitat is the Red Knot. In 2003, environmental scientists said the rufa Red Knot was going extinct. This magnificent species of shorebird, boasting one of the longest migrations of any bird at nearly 20,000 miles annually from the southern reaches of South America to the Arctic and back, was given an expiration date of 2010. The over-harvesting of Horseshoe Crabs mixed with rapid habitat loss had signed the deal. The Red Knot, along with hundreds of thousands of other shorebirds, depended on the Horseshoe Crab eggs along the Delaware Bay coast to refuel them on their migratory marathon, and without these two necessary ingredients, these birds could not survive.
Today in 2016, the rufa Red Knot is still threatened, but lives on, due to the education and conservation efforts of numerous Delaware area organizations. The Delmarva Ornithological Society has been proud to play a role in this important conservation effort, raising over $328,000 to help purchase over 1,213 acres of vital shorebird habitat along the Delaware Bay coast in the last 10 years, creating and sponsoring migratory bird research in Delaware, and providing a voice in favor of conservation in Delaware.
About the Delaware Bird-A-Thon
The primary fundraising source for the Delmarva Ornithological Society is their 10-day Delaware Bird-A-Thon, in which teams compete to see who can raise the most money and observe the most species of birds within Delaware in a 24-hour period.
I’m very excited to be participating in this year’s Bird-A-Thon! Our team, “The Aviators” has a goal of seeing over 125 species and raising $1,000 this year towards the Bird-A-Thon cause, making a difference for generations to come through our efforts. We’ll be out birding all day on May 6th, scouring the state for as many species as we can possibly find from the morning dawn until the final hours of the night. During and after the event, we’ll be keeping our followers updated as to our successes in the field, and will be providing a recap afterwards on the highlights of our effort. You can learn more about our team below:
Our Team, “The Aviators:”
Kelley’s been birding for about 5 years, since she was introduced to the sport while studying abroad in Ecuador. She’s excited to participate in her first big day since the World Series of Birding in 2012!
Hannah is an enthusiastic outdoorswoman and herper-turned-birder, with only 2+ years as a bird nerd. She makes up for her lack of experience with her talent as an excellent spotter and quick learner.
Derek is a master naturalist and birder, whose way with finding rare species, extraordinary encounters, and natural spectacles is uncanny. This is Derek’s 10th year participating in the Delaware Bird-A-Thon!
A graduate student at UD, Tim specializes in differentiating species of rails in Delaware marshlands. He’s been birding since he was a kid, and his passion for nature, birds, and photography are infectious.
A Maryland bird scene native, Josh is a self-taught, all-around expert naturalist, who’s been birding for ~4 years. Josh joins us as part of his passion for conserving critical bird habitats in the Delmarva area.
Alex Lamoreaux is a national and international expert birder, who’s fascinated by birds that end up in odd places, plus studying plumage variation between subspecies. Alex is excited to be participating in the 2016 BAT!