Thursday, June 23, 2011

193 in Mass, 187 in Maine

This has certainly been a great year for Big Days in New England! Not long after we set the CT record of 192, a team in Massachusetts hit 193 (highest number for any New England state; J. Trimble, P. Trimble, V. Laux) and a team in Maine hit 187 (L. Brinker, D. Ladd, R. Lambert, B. Sheehan).

Most folks, including myself, assume that once the dust settles and each state "maxes out" their totals, a team from Massachusetts should end up with the highest total out of the six New England states. Rhode Island seems too small, Vermont too landlocked, and New Hampshire perhaps with too little coastline. But what about CT and Maine?

Compared to MA and ME, Connecticut lacks an open ocean, has more homogeneous habitat types, lacks many northern breeders found just to the north (Mourning Warbler, YB Fly, OS Fly, etc) and lacks some southern breeders/overshoots that are regular on Cape Cod (Blue Grosbeak, Chuck-wills-widow etc). To partially make up for that, a few southern breeders are more common in CT (Worm-eating Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Acadian Fly) or simply absent elsewhere (Boat-tailed Grackle, and now maybe Eurasian Collared-Dove). There is also less driving to be done here.

I admit I had never given Maine a shot to reach the 190's and beyond, but this year's 187 effort can likely be improved upon (pure assumption on my part). Maine is a large state (by northeastern standards, anyway!), which on one hand means a great variety of habitat and breeding species, but on the other hand means that there's a lot of driving involved between said habitats! When you think about it, Maine has a bunch of great breeding birds of the boreal forest (Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Black-backed WP, 3-toed WP, Bay-breasted Warbler, Cape May Warbler and others) plus most of the typical deciduous breeders of the region, not to mention an extensive coastline. I would think that the precise route-planning in Maine is even more crucial than it is in the smaller states of MA and CT.

So, which team/state will reach 200 first? The smart money is probably on Massachusetts, but we hope to give it another shot here in CT next year, as long as our schedules allow. I don't think we would go without our full team of 5.

- Nick

3 comments:

  1. "...a lot of driving involved between said habitats!" The Maine team that just broke the record attacked this problem in a novel way, by using an airplane to get from Aroostook to southern Maine!

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  2. That is brilliant! Good for them. Wonder who's plane it was.

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  3. Not sure, but the gauntlet is certainly thrown down. Apparently they flew low to get Black Terns at Messalonskee. Genius.

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