With excited anticipation I barely slept through the night. I got up at 4:30am and made up some of my secret recipe gourmet hot chocolate. I layered up and headed over to Foothills Heritage Park and started the Big Sit a little early at 5:30am.
The sky was clear and the stars shone beautifully. The half moon was so bright that I didn't even need my flashlight. It was also surprisingly warm.
Today is the first day of open season for deer and the traffic of hunters going up highway 55 that early in the morning was considerable. A couple of them stopped to say hello.
I started playing owl calls and within minutes I had a Great Horned Owl in the tree just to my left. Very cool! I played other owl sounds for the next hour with no success.
At 6:40 am I was surprised to have a late migrating Killdeer calling while flying over. I have not seen any Killdeer in the last week. Perhaps today's was the last of the season.
The clouds started rolling in over the hills from the west and hid the stars and moon. The temperature started to drop quickly.
At 7:20 I started to hear the "whreee" of Spotted Towhee. At least three separate Spotted Towhee's would spend the morning with me. About this time my son, Kyle, showed up on his scooter to keep me company.
In rapid succession between 7:30 am and 8:30 am I observed in order of appearance:
White-crowned Sparrows - numerous all morning, but a noticeable lack of males.
Dark-eyed Juncos - numerous all morning with one text-book Slate-colored Junco.
Red-tailed Hawk (feeding on the flesh of something on top of the power pole which Kyle thought was pretty cool)
At 8:45 a Downy Woodpecker showed up, but the Sun still had not. It was destined to be a cold and overcast morn.
Not until 9:30 did a Common Raven make itself known. Finally a chorus of Western Meadowlarks singing from the hills broke through the glume.
A Black-billed Magpie wafted over the hill whose call alerted me to its presence.
Then another hour passed without any new species. All morning long between sightings I played various bird calls with very little response. There were numerous species I thought I would likely see, but the cold caused a lack of bugs which meant a lack of birds and my growing frustration.
At 10:30 I decided to put the spotting scope on the roof-tops of the homes and I was rewarded with the final species of the day, a pair of Mourning Doves.
So that was my Big anti-climatic Sit! 20 total species. 8 short of the goal.
It was a cold and lonely morning. Just me, my 8-year-old son, and a few birds. The hot chocolate was good!