Archive for October 11th, 2011


Wildomar BIG SIT Panorama

What’s a BIG SIT (don’t say these words too fast), you ask? Bird Watcher’s Digest, the official sponsor, describes The BIG SIT as, “A Tailgate Party for Birders!” The original idea began with the New Haven, CT Bird Club 17 years ago. Though touted as an international event its popularity resides primarily in the Midwest and Eastern US.

The rules are pretty simple. The counting team (one or more individuals) must stay within a designated 17 foot diameter circle (you can cram as many individuals, pets, and food in the circle that will fit) to count and tabulate the birds that heard or seen from the circle.  BIG SIT sites can pick their own hours, 24 if they like (12:01 AM – 11:59 PM), but most sites run their BIG SITS from dawn to dusk. For complete BIG SIT “honorary” rule information check out the Bird Watchers Digest BIG SIT RULES.

I must say BIRDERS, when it comes to their birding, adhere and abide by an honorary rule system like no other I have ever seen. Its success is simple however. Avid Birders are extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of their recreation. A single bird species migration dates, range, habitat, most recent sightings, songs, calls, and subtle feather markings are all recorded in the birdalogus portion of left hemisphere of their brain. This establishes an immense database that provides a very strong cadre of individuals with regulatory power to maintain the BIRDERS Honor System. As you might imagine any deceitful, dishonest, or birding braggart that might show up in the birding community is quickly found out and exposed. Occasional bird miss-calls and improper identifications by reliable birders are graciously forgiven. But if a continued pattern of sensational sightings and/or birding claims prevail the reporting party is deemed unreliable and the name of the individual ripples through the entire birding community.

A portion of my 17 foot BIG SIT circle

Hmm, why did I go there? This is somewhat of a stall from reporting my meager results of the 2011 WILDOMAR, CA BIG SIT. Since I was the only one participating in my 17 foot diameter circle in my backyard at Wildomar, CA, as far as I could tell there were probably no others doing a BIG SIT within a 25 mile radius of my location. I had all the opportunity to inflate my count and noone would ever know. Well, noone but myself and the other excellent birders in the area where we now reside!

I was fortunate to be tutored by some of the best birders in the Midwest and East Coast and they taught me well. They have more birdalogus brain matter than I have in my little finger nail and I would never disrespect them by doing something stupid. Plus, I’m a member of the ABA (American Birding Association) and for any kind of fraud I would surely be excommunicated from the organization, unless my dues were paid up, of course.

I woke up on Sunday morning forgetting that it was BIG SIT day. When running through my daily computer stops; CA earthquakes since I last looked the night before, the weather, the news, email, and Facebook – there it was on Facebook. A message appeared that the Rose Tree Park HawkWatch (A location where I spent over 10 years of  hawk watching) BIG SIT was under way.

My BIRDER TAILGATE PARTY started in my WILDOMAR, CA BIG SIT circle at 0800 PDT with me as the single partygoer.

The weather was very nice and the views beautiful with cirrus clouds streaming over the Santa Ana Mountains.



The first aerial activity viewed from the circle began at 0930 PST when the first sky dive plane gained altitude over our home before depositing its contents further north. I thought it was a bit early for a drop but once it was made I realized it was some sort of sky dive team doing a rather dangerous maneuver.

Sailplane Tow

At 0945 PDT the first sailplane was observed in tow overhead. By 1030 PDT the winds from the west had increased and the sailplanes called it a day, as did the birds. West winds don’t favor the soaring planes or birds and it seemed to kill other bird activity as well.

I finally decided to make this a SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BIG SIT so I shut down the circle at 1200 PDT, had a nice lunch – Tuna salad on Jalepeno Cheese Bread, and took a very nice long SIESTA (for those of you who don’t speak Spanish SIESTA=NAP).

At 1600 PDT I reopened the Count Circle for business, well casual business at best. I did pick up two distant soaring birds, one diving on the other.  Putting the scope on the activity it turned out to be a White-tailed Kite diving on a Red-tail Hawk. This turned out to be the best sighting of the day.

I ended up counting a whopping total of 20 species of birds, a reptile and a few insects. Nothing exceptional or not expected were seen. Perhaps the late Black-chinned Hummingbird might be considered unexpected.

It was nice to see the White-crowned Sparrows back for the winter and the 18 soaring Ravens were a morning highlight.

The THREE Stooges - House Sparrows . . . . The FOURTH is sitting in a chair watching them!

I will mark the date on my calendar for next year and do it again. Once you have been infected with the birding bug it is impossible cure.


Jim Lockyer



Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.  Mark Twain