2019 Break-a-Hundred Results 6/7/18
On the weekend of May 10-12 six teams set out to see how many species they could find within a 24 hour period. Between the six teams a very respectable 144 species were recorded, some of them very uncommon or rare for the county.
The team of John Haas, Lance Verderame, Arlene Borko and Karen Miller found 126 species on Friday, May 10th. The species found only by this team included Bufflehead, Ring-necked Pheasant, Sora, Lesser Yellowlegs, Herring Gull, Eastern Screech Owl, Winter Wren, American Pipit, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler and Glossy Ibis. The two Glossy Ibis were spotted flying over Haven Road late in the day. This is one of only a handful of records of this species for the county.
Also on Friday, Ruth McKeon and her grandson Brent McKeon found 54 species in just three hours of birding! They found the only Greater Yellowlegs of the count. Other good finds for this team included a Barred Owl, Double-crested Cormorant, Pileated Woodpecker and Pine Siskin.
The team of Scott Baldinger, Steve Altman, Mary Buskey and Joyce Depew found 113 species. They split their count between 3 P.M. on Friday the 10th and 3:00 P.M. on Saturday the 11th. Birds only found by this team included Sharp-shinned Hawk, Tennessee Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Orchard Oriole and Sandhill Crane. The Sandhill Crane is also a rare visitor to the county and a good find.
The father and daughter team of Patrick and Riley Dechon found 106 species on Saturday. They found the only Great Horned Owl and Hermit Thrush of the count and were only one of two teams to find Gray-cheeked Thrush.
Kathy Scullion, Bill Cutler and Scott Graber teamed up to find 114 species on Saturday. This team was the only team to find Worm-eating Warbler and one of only two teams to record Belted Kingfisher and Canada Warbler.
Charles and Kate Hyden teamed up with Gary and Melinda Cormier on Saturday to find 60 species. The highlight of their count included the only Evening Grosbeak found on the count as well as the only Rusty Blackbird. This is always a good record for this species this time of the year. Other good birds found by this team were Cerulean Warbler and White-crowned Sparrow.
A big thanks to all the participants who took part in this year's event. I hope others reading this will consider being part of the 2020 Break-A-100. As for me, I can't wait!
2018 Break-a-Hundred Results
This year seven teams set out during the weekend of May 11th, 12th and 13th with the goal of finding as many species of birds as they could within a 24 hour period. While the weather on Friday was pleasant, the weather for the remainder of the weekend was less than ideal with lots of precipitation. That being said a total of 136 bird species were found between the seven teams that participated.
There were 16 species located by only one of the teams. The team of Scott Baldinger, Deb Powell, Lee Hunter and Steve Altman found the only Merlin, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Nashville Warbler of the count. They finished with a total of 108 species. The group of Scott Graber, Kathy Scullion and Bill Cutler located the only Great Egret and Cedar Waxwing. They finished with a total of 105 species. The pairing of Charles and Kate Hyden spotted the only Lesser Scaup of the count and finished with 57 species. The team of John Haas, Lance Verderame and Karen Miller were the only team to find Gray-cheeked Thrush and Eastern Meadowlark and finished with 114 species.
Two of the teams included young birders. The team of Mary Collier and Valerie Freer also included Valerie's granddaughter Isabel Arter. They tallied 50 species which included the only Hooded Merganser of the count. Patrick Dechon was joined by his daughter Riley and they recorded a total of 103 species which included five species not seen by the other teams. These species were Red-shouldered Hawk, Greater Yellowlegs, Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech Owl and Northern Mockingbird.
Other birds of note were the American Wigeon which was found by three teams as was Bonaparte's Gull. Birds found by two teams included Common Loon, Black Vulture, Eastern Wood Pewee and Acadian Flycatcher, Blue-winged Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Canada Warbler, Indigo Bunting and Orchard Oriole. The biggest surprise, to me, was that four different teams recorded Pine Siskin on their counts! It was a fun time for all those who participated. I'm already counting the days to next year's Break-a-100!
2017 Break-a-Hundred Results
Seven teams (20 people) searched for birds in spite of Saturday downpours! Three teams “Broke a hundred.” The best weather was on Friday, May 12, and that was the day for the winning team, who identified 106 birds.
That team of Arlene Borko, Karen Miller, Lance Verderame and John Haas, started at 4:30 am and they were out all day until 5:30 pm, earning their first prize by finding 106 species, including 5 species no other group found: Black Duck, Ring-necked Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Bonaparte’s Gull, and Eastern Meadowlark.
Two other teams were TIED with a second prize of 101 species. I will describe the Baldinger team first because they found the most amazing birds: 18 EVENING GROSBEAKS! IN THE RAIN! This team started on Friday evening and finished during the heavy rain on Saturday.
The Baldinger team consisted of Mary Buskey, Steve Altman, Clay Spencer, and Scott Baldinger. They found 5 birds besides the Grosbeaks that were not found by any other team: Pied-billed Grebes, Great Horned Owl, Nighthawks, Cliff Swallow, and Cape May Warbler.
The team tied for second place was Kathy Scullion’s team (Kathy, Bill Cutler and Scott Graber). They were out at 3 pm on Friday to 3 pm on Saturday, when they got drenched. No really special birds for this team, because every one of their 101 birds were found by other teams.
There were four more teams - the family, car birders, and fun-seeking birders - (none breaking 100).
Teams by number of birds found: Patrick Dechon and Riley Dechon (9 years old) who spent 9 hours finding 74 birds on Friday evening and very early on Saturday. Most of their birds were in the Bashakill, and their best bird was a rare Black-bellied Plover at Morningside (also found by Scott Baldinger’s team). Watch out for the Dechon team on next year’s Break-a-100!
Valerie Freer, Mary Collier, and new Break-a-100 birder Peter Berger were out for about 6 hours on Friday, avoiding the rain. We found 64 species, none unique. We also found that we could drive on part of the rail trail at Hurleyville, a wonderful birding place.
Ruth Shursky and Ruth McKeon were out for 8 hours mostly on Sunday, and they enjoyed finding 62 species in many locations. The team of Kate and Charles Hyden found 48 species in the Livingston Manor area while driving only 4 miles from their home.
Congratulations to all!
2016 Break-a-Hundred Wrap Up
The annual Sullivan County Audubon Break-100 event took place the weekend of Friday, May 6th through Sunday, May 8th. For those not familiar with this event teams try to find as many different bird species within a 24 hour period in the county. This year seven teams participated and between them 141 different species were found. The temperatures were below normal for the entire weekend. There were off and on showers as well. The event was held early this year and some of the late spring migrants were missed, such as many flycatcher species. On the other hand some of the early migrants were still present.
Some waterfowl highlights seen by multiple teams included Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck and Long-tailed Duck. Other good birds for the count were Common Loon, Merlin and both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.
One of the two rarities for the day was the Sandhill Crane heard by John Haas and his team as well as Scott Baldinger’s team from Haven Road on Saturday evening. Scott Baldinger and his team of Deb Powell and Lee Hunter found the count’s only Barred Owl, Hooded Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler and Lincoln’s Sparrow. Scott’s team finished with 113 species.
The team of Kathy Scullion, Bill Cutler and Scott Graber found the only Gadwall, Wilson’s Snipe, Winter Wren, Bay-breasted Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler and Rusty Blackbird of the count. They finished the day with 110 species.
Charles and Kate Hyden were able to see 38 species from their property in Livingston Manor. The team of Valerie Freer and Mary Collier found the only Black Vulture of the count while searching the county on Friday the 6th. They finished the day with 65 species.
The team of John Haas, Arlene Borko, Karen Miller and Lance Verderame found 113 species for the day. They added the only Great Horned Owl and Least Sandpipers found on the count.
Renee Davis and Marge Gorton found the only Ruddy Duck, Red-shouldered Hawk and Golden-winged Warbler for the count. They also spotted the other rarity which was an amazing seven Glossy Ibis flying over the deli fields in Westbrookville. Valerie Freer and Mary Collier were also present to enjoy these rare visitors to our county. Renee and Marge tallied 103 species for the count. Ruth McKeon and Ruth Shursky teamed up to count 62 species. They added Pine Siskin to the count.
Congratulations to all the teams for their efforts. As always it was lots of fun and a good time was had by all. Anybody is welcome to participate. If you have never been involved in Break-100, but would like to be part of a team for next year’s event, feel free to contact Sullivan County Audubon to start your own team or be placed with a current team. Hope to see you in 2017!
2015 Break-a-Hundred Results
In spite of remarkably hot weather in early May, three talented and energetic teams trudged into the fields to find every bird they could during a 24-hour period, and their efforts yielded over 100 species each.
Scott Baldinger’s energetic team topped this event with 115 species, including a great 24 warblers! In 10 hours, his team (Deb Powell, Mary Buskey, and Lee Hunter) walked 7.5 miles (mostly in the Bashakill) and drove to most of the birding hot spots in Sullivan County (189 miles). Their hard work produced 11 species not recorded by any other team: (Pied-billed Grebe, Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Wilson’s Snipe, Ring-billed Gull, Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blackpoll, Magnolia and N Parula).
Kathy Scullion’s team (Bill Cutler, Beth Barker and Scott Graber) was second with 109 species from 4:30 am to 11 pm on Saturday. They found the only Hooded Merganser at Fireman’s Field, a Semipalmated Sandpiper and a Amer. Pipit at Apollo Plaza (not quite dry), and a Gray-cheeked Thrush near the boat launch at deli fields. They walked about 4 miles and drove 150 miles.
John Haas’ team (Arlene Borko and Lance Verderame) found 108 species as they searched from 4 am to 6 pm on Saturday, locating the only Spotted Sandpiper (Neversink River) and Golden-winged Warbler (Stonefield). They found 20 warbler species and drove 75 miles.
Two other teams which might be described as “mostly senior” teams, whose pleasure in birding still keeps them going out for the count, each located over 70 species. Valerie Freer, Mary Collier and ringer Renee Davis found 72 species during 4 to 8 pm on Friday, covering only from Wolf Brook south, and driving about 50 miles. They found no unique species. Ruth McKeon and Ruth Shursky formed another senior team, watching from the car for 9 hours. They drove 72 miles and found 71 species, including some great birds. Their best bird would be Osprey nesting on a pole along the road at the old Concord hotel.
A third group of budding birders restricted themselves to near home, as they worked on their growing ability to find and identify birds. Kate and Charlie Hyden found 47 species in their yard, along the Willowemoc at Liv Manor, and along the route to Liberty, driving 22 miles. Pat Cocot joined us by recording 20 species in her yard at Monticello.
The combined list of the top three teams added up to only 135 different species this year, lower than in recent years. In the past 10 years of SCAS May counts, all but one count produced more than 145 species, and two counts found over 150 species. The most obvious year-to-year difference was in the larger number of teams in the field: we had 7 teams in 2010, 2011 and 2012, when 148, 156 and 149 species were found. Similar patterns could be seen in years when 6 teams were active. Another factor could be the heat—this year’s long spell of 80+ degrees could have slowed the birders down, and also affected bird behavior.
Several unique species appeared this year, but were just outside of the time or other constraints. On Thursday evening before the count began, John Haas found a wonderful Yellow-breasted Chat in the orchard area of the Bashakill, seen by Scott Baldinger and several others. On Sunday, (after their 24 hour period) Kathy Scullion and Bill Cutler saw a Black Vulture in Jeffersonville. And both Ruths saw a Chukar feeding on the ground at Ruth Shursky’s house on Friday.
2014 Break-a-Hundred Results 6/14/14
Fourteen participants in five field teams and two home teams participated in the recent Break-a-100 on May 9-11, finding many special birds in Sullivan County. Rain, fog, mist and the like dominated the weather on Friday and Saturday, but Sunday was mostly sunny.
The biggest list (127 species) was produced by the John Haas team (Arlene Borko and Lance Verderame) while they birded for 16 hours from 4 am to 8 pm on Friday. They found the only Hooded Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Horned Grebe, Semipalmated Plover, Common Tern, Tennessee Warbler, and Lincoln's Sparrow. They covered a lot of territory, driving 180 miles and walking about 4 miles.
Kathy Scullion, Scott Graber, Bill Cutler, and Beth Barker came in with a close second (124 species) while getting very little sleep during 19 hours of birding on Saturday night and Sunday. They drove 150 miles and found the only Cooper's Hawk, Nighthawk, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (seen at Haven Road at length by all team members), Raven, Cedar Waxwing, and Worm-eating Warbler.
Scott Baldinger, Deb Powell and Lee Hunter walked almost 8 miles and drove 132 miles to find 116 species, mostly on Saturday. They found the only Black Duck, Sora, and Golden-crowned Kinglet. Scott noted that they found 100 species within the Bashakill area, a first for him.
Renee Davis and Marge Gorton came up with 107 species in 15 hours on Sunday while driving 222 miles, the most of any group. They found the only Semipalmated Sandpiper at Apollo Plaza and a Brewster's Warbler (a hybrid) along Linear Park. Ruth McKeon and Ruth Shursky found 81 species in 12.5 hours on Saturday, including the only Willow Flycatcher (at the Concord Golf Course). Both they and the Scullion team spotted an Orchard Oriole at the Bashakill orchard. Single Red-throated Loons, Broad-winged Hawks, Kestrels and Meadowlarks were found by team Scullion and Davis. A Hooded Warbler was found by both Scott Baldinger's team and Kathy's team.
Two green teams used no gas at all: they did very good counts on foot in or near their yards: Kate and Charles Hyden (42 species) at Livingston Manor and Pat Cocot (24 species) in Monticello.
The combined total of all teams was 148 species. Our records since 1990 show the highest combined total for SCAS was 156 species in 2011, with 151 at second place in 2007. 148 or 149 was the recorded total in six recent years, suggesting that we may have reached a plateau.
100 Species at the Bashakill! 6/14/14
On Friday 5/9/14 my team of Deb Powell, Lee Hunter, and I did our big day (Sullivan County's Break-a-100 weekend). What was special about this day was the fact that of the 116 species found in Sullivan County on Friday, 100 of those species were found at the Bashakill! (Previously the most I've been able to get on the Bashakill in one day were 82 species.) The timing needs to be right to hit such a number and Friday 5/9 was the right timing. Severe storms Thursday night into early Friday morning with strong southwest winds put a lot of birds into the county particularly in the Bashakill. We'd been waiting for the big push of migrants and it paid off for Friday. It was a wood warbler bonanza for Sullivan County with 25 species found of which 24 were here at the Bashakill. The one warbler we missed here was the Prairie Warbler which we found later that day at the Wolf Brook Multiple Use Area.
Some great finds on the Bash this particular day, all of which could have been easily missed, were the SORA calling off the Stop Sign trail, a VESPER SPARROW and EASTERN SCREECH OWL at the Deli Fields. A pair of American Black Ducks flushed by the Pine boat launch late Friday afternoon turned out to be species #100 for the Bash.
We were thrilled to hit 100 for the Bashakill but the trade-off was not spending more time around the rest of the county where we only managed to find another 16 species. We still finished with a decent number of species for the day and I, along with Deb and Lee, can finally say that we managed to hit 100 species of birds in one day at the Bashakill!
2013 Break-a-Hundred Results
Congratulations to the team of Kathy Scullion, Scott Graber, Bill Cutler, and Beth Barker, who found the highest number of species (115)! Other teams close behind were the Scott Baldinger/Danny Messina team (113), John Haas team (Arlene Borko, Lance Verderame, Maura & Truth Muller,111) and Renee Davis/Ruth McKeon team (107). Other teams included Valerie Freer, Mary Collier, Rick Bunting, and Gloria Wagenknecht (94 species) and Ruth McKeon and Ruth Shursky (87 species).
The combined total of species found was 138. The most recent counts that yielded a total that low were in 2004 (136) and 2003 (138). During the last eight years from 2005 to 2012 our totals were higher, ranging from 147 to 156, so your impression that there were not as many birds to be seen as usual seems correct. Certainly weather is a critical variable in these events and sporadic rain on Saturday interfered with bird activity and the efforts of several teams.
The idea that we were doing this count too early in May (May 10 to 12) is not supported by some earlier Break-a-100 results: in 2008 we found 148 species on the May 9 to 11 count. Also, our earliest count in the past 20 years was in 2009, when we found 149 species from May 8 to 10.
Kathy Scullion's team (the "gourmet food team") found the only Goshawk of the event along Rt 42 near Grahamsville, and the only Great Homed Owl (atop a light pole at SCCC), plus a Meadowlark at Neversink Reservoir (along with a Savannah Sparrow and a Harrier). Scott Baldinger and Danny Messina found the only Red-throated Loon (at Neversink Res), a Marsh Wren along Haven Road, Lesser Yellowlegs at deli fields, Willow Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Hooded Warbler at the Nature Trail, and Orchard Oriole at the orchard. John Haas' team found the only Hooded Merganser (over Haven Rd), Least Sandpipers in the grasses at Apollo Plaza, and the only Brown Creeper near McDonald Rd. Renee's team saw the only Pipits (2) at Morningside and the only Cape May Warblers near
Pine Siskins are not usually common on a Big Day Count, but this year five of our six teams found groups of them at feeders from Parksville, Hasbrouck, Summitville and the Bashakill, or in a flock at the deli fields. Warblers are more expected, and we found 22 different species, not a remarkable number. All birders missed the following: Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Kestrel, both Cuckoos; Alder & 4 other species of flycatcher; Winter Wren, Cedar
Waxwing, Golden-winged, Tennessee, Nashville, Palm, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Mourning and Wilson's warblers; Lincoln's and Vesper sparrows.
The first prize for the Break-a-100 is a huge trophy, which is now being engraved, and then will be put in the mail to the top team. One-way trips to major birding locations will go to the other teams.
2012 Break-a-Hundred Results
Twenty one people in seven teams searched Sullivan County's fields and skies on Mother's Day weekend, looking and listening for every kind of bird. Their efforts were rewarded with a great combined list of 149 species, a total exceeded only twice in the past 20 years. Each team had a favorite area or two they searched, but the major part of their day was spent at the Bashakill and nearby hot spots in the valley. Warblers were the main feature this year, as usual, with 27 species found in all. A couple of fall-outs in the first week of May brought huge numbers of migrating birds along with concern that our Break-a-100 would be too late this year, but it clearly was not.
In only their third year of participation in this event, Scott Baldinger's team was able to tie the highly experienced Gourmet team. Each team found 120 species in a tie. The high-powered Baldinger team consisted of Scott, Deb Powell, Joyce Depew, Lee Hunter and Mark Diedrich. They found the only Blue-winged Teal, Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Ring-billed Gulls, Tennessee Warblers, Bay-breasted Warblers, and Orchard Oriole. They walked over 8 miles! And they found 24 kinds of warblers.
The Gourmet team (named for the exotic snacks they always bring on the count) of Kathy Scullion, Scott Graber and Beth Barker found the only Green Heron and Great Horned Owl, plus 22 kinds of warblers.
Two other teams also "broke a hundred:" John Haas' team (John, Lance Verderame and Arlene Borko) had 116 species including the only Sharp-shinned Hawk and Lincoln's Sparrow plus 21 warbler species, and Renee Davis' team (Renee, Marge Gorton & Ruth McKeon) found 113 species including the only Ruffed Grouse, Lesser Yellowlegs, Black-billed Cuckoo and Acadian Flycatcher plus 16 kinds of warblers. The not-so-ruthless team of Shursky and McKeon (Ruth and Ruth) produced a fine list of birds and came close to breaking 100, but only 11 kinds of warblers were found.
Last year we introduced a second division in this event, the Environmentally Green Division which focuses on using little or no gas in finding the birds. This year two teams participated. The Kate & Charles Hyden team, along with Gloria Wagenknecht, found 46 species in 8 hours, reporting the only Ring-necked Duck, while driving only 12.1 miles (on foot the rest of the time). They easily won this competition by finding 3.8 birds per mile driven. The Freer team, including Mary Collier, found 60 species in 6 hours but drove much more (34.5 miles). They came in last place with only 1.7 birds per mile driven, but they were rewarded by finding the only Palm Warblers (2) and the only Olive-sided Flycatcher.
2011 Break-a-Hundred Results
Another SCAS “Break-a-100" contest is now in the books. Twenty birders on seven teams spread out over the county during the mid-May weekend, carefully recording every kind of bird they came upon, and we are pleased to report that every team “Broke-a-100”– meaning that they found 100 or more kinds of birds during a 24-hour period. This remarkable achievement by every team attests to the high level of birding skills, perseverance, and their knowledge of where to find each species in the county.
Occasional showers on Saturday and rain off and on on Sunday made the task more difficult. We heard many comments to the effect that the peak of migration had passed a week or more before. In spite of these handicaps, we were delighted to find that the combined results of all teams reached 156 species, five more than we had ever had before (151 in 2007)! Another remarkable feature of this contest is the number of species found by every team – 65 species!
Congratulations to the top team, finding 124 species (John Haas, Arlene Borko, and Lance Verderame), birding all day on Saturday. They found 8 unique species: the only Sora (at Haven Rd), Semipalmated Plover at Brown’s Hotel pond, Herring Gull at Neversink Reservoir, Great Horned Owl at the Main boat launch, Fish Crow at Wurtsboro, Golden-cr Kinglet at Cooley Rd bog, Golden-winged W at the deli fields trail, and Blackpoll W. Their closest competition came from the Scullion/Graber/Cutler team, who recorded 119 species, including the
only Blue-winged Teal (at Briscoe), a Pheasant at WS Spr, and a Great Egret at the Nature Trail. The Haas/Borko team (on Friday the 13th) found 110 species, including the only Sharp-shinned Hawk and Saw-whet Owl. Only one species behind, the Davis/Gorton/McKeon team found 109 kinds, including the only Broadwings at Renee’s house, two Gr. Black-backed Gulls over the Bashakill, a Mourning Warbler at the Nature Trail, and a Wilson’s Warbler at WS Spr. Team Baldinger (plus Hunter/Powell/Depew) reported 107 species, including the only Ruffed Grouse at Wolf Brook, Horned Grebe at Moosehead Cove and E Screech-Owl at South Rd. The other two teams finding 100 or more species consisted of Collier/Dechon/Bunting/Freer and McKeon/Shursky.
Each team drove many miles, from 95 mi to195 mi. We are pleased to announce that there was one other team that did not drive at all, and therefore was the most environmentally friendly team: Charles and Kate Hyden, who did the count on foot on and near their property. They found 28 species, not bad for a first effort, and are awarded the Break-a-100 GREEN ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD. We hope to organize other Green teams in this new category next year.
2010 Break-a-Hundred Results
Another excellent big day in May migration was enjoyed by 7 teams during the weekend of May 14 to 16. This was the largest number of teams we have ever had in this event, up from 5 or 6 in recent years, and the highest number of participants (21). High winds kept the birds in hiding and made birding difficult on Saturday, but the weather was much more cooperative on Sunday, presenting the Sunday birders with an edge. (We do not want to detract from the considerable birding skills, great determination and good luck of the two winning teams, but in addition to those assets, they did most or all of their birding on Sunday.) One winning team with 121 species consisted of Renee Davis and Marge Gorton, and the other, also with 121 species, was led by Kathy Scullion and included Scott Graber, Beth Barker and Bill Cutler. Congratulations! Prizes are in the mail.
Every team contributed by finding at least one species not found by others. The Davis/Gorton team found the only Semipalmated Plovers and a Bay-breasted Warbler. The Scullion team had the only Cooper’s Hawk, Fish Crow, Swainson’s Thrush, Nashville and Worm-eating Warblers. The Ruth team (Shursky and McKeon) saw the only Golden-crowned Kinglet. The Freer/Collier team found the only Lesser Yellowlegs and a drumming Ruffed Grouse. John Haas’ Sunday team (102 sp) saw the only Tennessee Warbler, two Black Vultures over the Bashakill and heard 2 Great Horned Owls. Scott Baldinger (104 sp) led a team on Saturday including Paula Baldinger, Debbie Powell and Lee Hunter. They saw the only Sharp-shinned Hawk, Wilson’s Snipe and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, plus a hybrid, a Brewster’s Warbler. John Haas’ Saturday team found 114 species, including a 3 am Least Bittern heard from Haven Rd and a Raven. See Bird Notes in this issue for details on these sightings.
The combined total of 148 species was close to our all-time high of 151 species achieved in 2007. Many thanks to Ruth Shursky who once again hosted the count-down dinner on Sunday evening.
2009 Break-a-Hundred Results
Our annual “Break-a-hundred” event on May
9-10 was a great success by any measure. Six teams (14
people) scoured all the best birding spots in the County,
and the birds cooperated. Surprisingly, 8 kinds of
ducks, 8 of hawks and 7 of shorebirds showed themselves,
along with 6 woodpeckers, 6 flycatchers, and an abundance
of warblers (26 kinds!).
Most of the teams did find over 100 species, and the Haas-Borko-Verderame
team led the pack with 131 species. Their very effective
two-part strategy was 1. to scout many areas in advance,
and 2. to start at 4 am on Haven Rd and to stay out until
9 pm the same day (17 hours total). Their total of 131
is the largest ever for this event, and it ties with their
own results of 2007. This team found the only Buffleheads,
Green-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, N. Harrier, Cape
May Warbler, and Lincoln’s Sparrow.
The second team (Scullion-Barker-Graber-Cutler) found
120 species (a total that would have been the leader in
4 out of the last 7 years). They found the only Ruffed
Grouse, Barred Owl, Winter Wren and Worm-eating Warbler
of the weekend. And they clearly got the least sleep of
any team, since they were out for 21 hours total.
The Davis-Gorton team found 111 kinds of birds on Saturday
evening and Sunday, including the only Palm Warbler. The
Verderame-Haas team found 103 species on Sunday, including
the only Black Vultures, Blackpoll, and Orchard Orioles.
The Freer-Collier-Bunting team of relaxed birders came
up with Least Sandpipers, a Nashville Warbler and an uncountable
hybrid (Brewster’s type). The Two Ruths team (Shursky
and McKeon) contributed a Great Egret at Morningside and
Cedar Waxwings at Wurtsboro plus many other birds.
The combined lists of all teams added up to 149 species,
not the highest we have had, but second only to 151 species
Congratulations to all who participated. The target for all to aim at is 131
species. Wait until next year!
2008 Break-a-Hundred Results: Every Team Wins!
Our 2008 Break-a-Hundred event was great fun and a success
by any measure. For the first time ever, all six of the
participating teams not only "broke a hundred" but did
even better than that: every team found at least 110
kinds of birds in the county! The two winning teams
(it was a tie) each found "only" 118 species, so there
was a difference of only 8 species between the shortest
and the longest lists. A total of 18 people on six teams
searched in their favorite local places during any 24-hour
period of the May 9 to 11 weekend.
The (tied) Grand Prize goes to the team of Renee Davis
and Marge Gorton who found 118 species, including the only
Brant, Northern Harrier, Least Sandpiper and Eastern Meadowlark
of the weekend. The Co-winners, also with 118 species,
were the team of John Haas, Lance Verderame, Arlene Borko
and Ed Debellevue, who started their day at 3:30 am on
Saturday. They found the only Sora of the event.
An enthusiastic team consisting of Valerie Freer, Mary
Collier, and two upstate visitors, Rick Bunting and Chris
Cumming, found 111 species. Patrick Dechon, who led an
even more enthusiastic team which included Jamie Lo and
Ruth McKeon, found 112 kinds. Another team with 112 species
consisted of John Haas, Bill Fiero, Lance Verderame, and
California visitor Ed DeBellevue. They searched all day
Sunday, and found 7 unique species: the only Hooded Merganser,
Cooper's Hawk, Pectoral Sandpiper, Bonaparte's Gull, Worm-eating
Warbler, Hooded Warbler, and Golden-winged Warbler of the
event. They also found a bonus Lawrence's Warbler (a hybrid).
This team found the most warblers, 23 species, and therefore
win the "2008 Warbler Prize." (Most other
teams found only 17 kinds.)
The 6th team, sometimes called the "Gourmet Birders,"
consisted of Kathy Scullion, Beth Barker and guest David
Lemmon (plus Scott Graber for a few hours). They came up
with 110 species, including the only American Pipits of
When the lists were all tallied and combined, we came up
with a grand total of 148 species, the second highest we
have ever found (tied with 2005 and topped only by 151
species last year).
At the countdown dinner there was talk of re-naming this
event to "Break-a-110." After due consideration, we agreed
not to make the change, since even at that level, every
team would still be a winner.
2007 Break-a-Hundred Results: New High Numbers!
A total of 16 people participated in our annual peak of
spring migration count on May 12 & 13, coming up with
record-breaking results. Each of the six teams went to
their favorite bird spots in the county during a 24-hr
period of their choice, keeping a list of the kinds of
birds they encountered.
The winning team of John Haas, Lance Verderame and Arlene
Borko came up with 131 species, a new high for this event,
beating out the previous high of 130 species found twice
before: in 1998 (Scott Graber’s team) and 2005 (Renee
Davis’ team). Their winning strategy seems straightforward
enough: they started very early on Saturday (4 am) at the
Bashakill and worked longer than some other teams. It paid
off in a very early Least Bittern, plus a Goshawk, Hooded
Merganser, Snipe, Ring-necked Duck, Mourning Warbler, and
White-crowned Sparrow–all missed by the other teams.
Scott Graber’s team of Kathy Scullion, Beth Barker,
Bill Cutler, and Tim Redman found 120
species, including the only Black Vulture, Cerulean and
Worm-eating Warblers, and an amazing Snow Bunting! Renee
Davis and Marge Gorton found the only Brant, Meadowlark,
Black Tern, and Red-shouldered Hawk, tying with the
Collier/Freer/Dechon/Bunting team at 114 species. The latter
team was the only one to find a Bay-breasted Warbler, and
they had the largest list of warblers, 23.
John Haas and Lance Verderame competed as another team
again on Sunday (now called the “Tired Team”),
and their total was 104 species. They added a Northern
Harrier to the composite list. The “Ruth” team
of Shursky/McKeon found a very respectable 84 species on
Saturday and contributed the only Black-billed Cuckoo to
When we tallied the combined list for the weekend, we had
a grand total of 151 species, topping the previous high
of 148 species in 2005. We had very good weather, we are
learning more about the best places to find birds in Sullivan
County, and our skills are improving!
Break-a-Hundred Report - 2006
May 12th through the14th this year had us on the edge of
our seats. Not often do we have to deal with cool weather
with the threat of showers for our annual May event. This
year we had both. Temperatures ranged from the high 40s to
the middle 60s with cloud cover and drizzle most of the time.
That didn’t stop us though, fifteen of us managed to
find many birds that just migrated in the night before. We
did not find high numbers of birds but were able to find many
Ruth McKeon and Ruth Shursky found the only Northern Harrier,
Merlin, Snow Goose and Pine Siskin in the county that weekend.
My teammates Arlene Borko, Phyllis Jones and John Haas found
the only Lesser Yellowlegs, Cedar Waxwing, Cape May Warbler,
Meadowlark, and Orchard Oriole. Valerie Freer, Mary Collier,
Jamie Lo, and Patrick Dechon had the only Hooded Merganser
and Kestral. John Haas along with Jane and Bill Fiero found
a Willow Flycatcher, a Purple Martin, Marsh Wren, Mourning
Warbler and a Lincoln’s Sparrow. Scott Graber, Kathy
Scullion and Beth Barker found a Pied-billed Grebe, Dunlin,
a Barred Owl, Winter Wren, Brown Thrasher, and a Cerulean
The five teams clocked 828 miles among them. With the price
of gas these days that was an expense we never had to face
before. Ouch! Our grand total of species was 148, not bad
considering that migration seemed to be a little later than
usual. Team “Ruth” ended up finding 72 species,
team Freer found 110 species, team Haas found 117, team Davis
found 118 and the million dollar winning team---with only
two hours of sleep---Scott, Kathy and Beth with 118 species.
Congratulations, the check’s in the mail!
Break-a-Hundred Report - 2005
Once again SCAS held our annual "Break-a-100" Day
in mid-May, and the weekend seemed to perfectly coincide with
the peak of migration. Four teams searched the county to find
as many kinds of birds as possible, and all came up with outstanding
The combined total for all teams (148 species) set a new
record for Sullivan County, beating the previous record of
146 species set in 1994 (and tied in 1996).
For the first time, every team not only "Broke-a-100"
but had high enough numbers to have been the winner in most
previous years. For example, John Haas and Arlene Borko found
119 kinds on Saturday, which was high enough to have beaten
every other team in four of the last five years! The gourmet
group (Scott Graber, Kathy Scullion, Beth Barker and Pete
Salmonsohn) came up with 125 species on Saturday; John Haas,
Arlene Borko & Bill Fiero found 128 on Sunday; and the
team of Renee Davis, Valerie Freer, Phyllis Jones and Ruth
Shursky found 130, winning the event and the coveted "Break-a-100"
trophy. (Their list of 130 species was not a new record; it
tied the record set by Scott Graber's team in 1998.)
We think that the numbers found in this event keep inching
upward because our birding skills have improved and we have
learned of more great places to look in the county, and besides,
we are just lucky. The best finds of the event included Lincoln's
and Grasshopper Sparrows, Acadian and Olive-sided Flycatchers,
Black Tern, Sora, Saw-whet Owl, Semipalmated Plover, and 26
kinds of warblers!
BIG DAY CONTEST WINNERS - 2004
Our annual “Break-a-100" was held once again during
the weekend of May 15-16. Four teams were in the field
searching for every kind of bird they could find in the county.
The winning team with 112 species was led by Scott Graber.
His team (the “Gourmet Gobblers”) enjoys fine
snacking while birding; their menu this year included the
traditional vegetarian and crab sushi, black bean dip on onion
flatbread, organic fruit spritzers, brownies with peanut butter,
and other international treats. It is easy to see why
so many people want to be on this team.
We have a dynasty here! Scott and his team have won
the coveted “Break-a-100" trophy in 10 out of the
last 12 years. His total this year was low compared
to other years, but still was one more than the next team.
Scott has led many different team members over the years.
This year the team included Beth Barker, Kathy Scullion, John
Stowell, Pete Salmansohn, and Bob Andreucci.
The combined total for all teams was 136 species, the second
lowest compared to other years. Scott’s team found
23 species of warblers including the only Bay-breasted, Nashville,
and Worm-eating. John Haas and Bill Fiero added Hooded
and Canada to make a total of 25 warblers. (Every team
was able to find the Kentucky Warbler at Stonefields.)
We looked at the cumulative species list for the past 12
years and found that it now contains 189 species. Three
new species were added to that list this year: Semipalmated
Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and Hooded Warbler–all
found by the John Haas/Bill Fiero team.
Other participants were Renee Davis, Valerie Freer, Dick
Hirschman, Phyllis Jones, and Ruth Shursky.