Friday, March 4, 2022

May 2018: Ian's Greatest Birding Day of his Life!

Note: This event happened in May 2018... this is (finally!) being posted in March 2022.
Photo of Ian with scope is from 2014! 

I am so proud that Ian has found a way to follow his passion, support himself well and live every day working toward the betterment of the birding world, doing what he loves best... birds! Since he was 11 he's been fascinated with seeing and hearing them, learning about their special behavior and traveling to find, observe and photograph more birds. The fact of him seeing the most birds at one time than have ever been seen is the icing on the cake!

In an attempt to record this amazing event that happened in May of 2018 in Tadoussac, Canada, I thought I'd make a blog post about it so I can go back and see it all in one place. 
Some of the published items about this day are below.

I'll start out with Ian's description of the over 9 hours of non stop birds flying by!

Link is here if you want to read more and see his excellent  photos:

Mon May 28, 2018 5:45 AM
Party Size:
9 hour(s), 41 minute(s)
0.8 kilometer(s)
François-Xavier Grandmont List , Ian Davies , Sarah Dzielski List , Thierry Grandmont List , Tim Lenz List , Tom Auer List
[text by Ian Davies]
Today was the greatest birding day of my life.

Southwest winds overnight had led to high hopes for the morning, compounded by dawn rain in the area. Our first stop had been fruitless, with a handful of warblers moving, but nothing notable. We decided to head for the Tadoussac dunes anyways.

On our arrival (545a), it was raining. A few warblers passed here and there, and we got excited about groups of 5-10 birds. Shortly before 6:30a, there was a break in the showers, and things were never the same.

For the next 9 hours, we counted a nonstop flight of warblers, at times covering the entire visible sky from horizon to horizon. The volume of flight calls was so vast that it often faded into a constant background buzz. There were times where there were so many birds, so close, that naked eyes were better than binoculars to count and identify. Three species of warbler flew between my legs throughout the day (TEWA, MAWA, MYWA). For hours at a time, a single binocular scan would give you hundreds or low thousands of warblers below eye level.

The flight line(s) varied depending on wind direction and speed. All birds were heading southwest. When calm, birds were high, often inland or farther out over the river. High winds (especially from the W, or SW), brought birds down low, sometimes feet from the ground and water. Rain also lowered birds, and the most intimate experiences with migrants occurred during a rain squall and strong wind period. Hundreds of birds stopped to feed and rest on the bare sand, or in the small shrubs.

Counting birds and estimating species composition was the biggest challenge of the day—balancing the need to document what was happening with the desire to just bask in the greatest avian spectacle I’ve ever witnessed. A significant effort was made to estimate movement rates throughout the day, and those rates combined with species-specific movement estimates were used for the below totals. See the full checklist for species-specific notes.

Movement rate estimates were made by looking through binoculars at a flight line, and counting the number of individuals passing a vertical line in that field of view, per second. This was repeated multiple times for each bin view, and repeated throughout the sky so that all flight at that moment was accounted for. The average birds/second was then used for that time period, until another rate estimate showed a different volume of movement. Non-warblers were counted separately. I took a couple attempts at video, which are listed below under ‘warbler sp.’ These videos only hint at the magnitude of the spectacle.

These were my warbler rate estimates:

6:29-6:43 8/s — 6720
6:44-7:02 3/s — 3240
7:03-7:14 15/s — 9900
7:15-8:02 30/s — 84600
8:03-8:27 10/s — 14400
8:28-9:12 15/s — 48600
9:13-9:31 12/s — 12960
9:32-9:48 15/s — 14400
9:49-1038 25/s — 73500
10:39-11:03 40/s — 57600 (during and after a rain squall)
11:04-11:52 30/s — 86400
11:53-12:17 20/s — 28800
12:18-12:37 15/s — 17100
12:38-12:48 25/s — 15000
12:49-1:13 50/s — 72000 (winds switch to strong WSW)
1:14-2:36 30/s — 147600
2:37-2:56 20/s — 22800
2:57-3:04 10/s — 4200
3:05-3:14 3/s — 1620
3:15-3:18 1/s — 180
Total number of warblers: 721,620

To our knowledge, the previous warbler high for a single day in the region was around 200,000, which was the highest tally anywhere in the world. Other observers in the area today had multiple hundreds of thousands, so there were likely more than a million warblers moving through the region on 28 May 2018. Thank you to the Observatoire d’Oiseaux de Tadoussac ( for monitoring these movements for decades, and sharing the wonder of this place with the global birding community.

There’s no place like Tadoussac.
Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 1.7.4

108 species (+3 other taxa) total

And the New York Times wrote a great article about this astonishing day:

You'll see more great images if you go to the eBird link and scroll down

A Canada warbler.
Photo Credit
Ian Davies
Article By James Gorman
  • May 31, 2018 New York Times

Ian Davies got hooked on birds when he was 12. He went to a site near Plymouth, Mass., where volunteers were putting bands on migrating birds. 
“They let me release a Canada warbler,” he said, “and that was just game over.” 
On Monday, he saw an estimated 700,000 warblers and set the birding world all atwitter with a posting on the site eBird describing the astonishing event
The posting begins simply:
“Today was the greatest birding day of my life.”
He may one day top it, because he is 26. But he has a good deal of experience to look back on already. In 14 years of dedicated birding, he has been to 35 countries, and is a project coordinator of eBird, a citizen science project for gathering data from the worldwide community of birders, who contribute data on about 100 million sightings a year. 
He and his fellow birders were at the Tadoussac bird observatory in Quebec, on the north bank of the St. Lawrence River. Pascal Côté, the director of the observatory who has been monitoring birds there for 10 years, said “I have never seen anything like this.” His group, at a different location in the same area, saw 200,000 birds in what was only one part of a miles-wide corridor. He said he thought the total was probably closer to 500,000, but could be higher.

It was, in any case, ten times as many as he had ever seen in a day, and, he thought, the most passerines, or perching birds, ever seen in one day in North America.  
Mr. Davies’ method for counting was to calculate the rate of passage of birds across an imaginary line at different points through the day for a few seconds and extrapolate. Mr. Côté’s team counted birds at their spot with a different approach, trying to tally the actual numbers, not one by one, but in blocks. An observer might count out 10 or 50 or 100.

It was a personal trip for Mr. Davies. “We were chasing something like this,” he said yesterday in a phone conversation, still at Tadoussac, still observing and counting birds. “Our wildest hope was to have one day with 50,000 warblers.”
“As far as we’re aware,” he said, “it’s three times the number of warblers that anyone has ever seen at a location anywhere. It was basically a river of warblers. All heading southwest.” The previous record was 200,000.  

These are northward migrating birds, but frequently at Tadoussac, there is a huge morning flight of warblers who have overshot the mark or have been blown off course and are heading back to known food sources before continuing on.
The morning started off quiet, he said, and then the birds just kept coming. They did not quite darken the sky as passenger pigeons once did. But the group was stunned because they kept coming for nine hours.
They had to calculate the rate at which the birds were passing rather than count individuals and Mr. Davies said, “It felt sort of like a dream. How do you communicate what that dream was like to others.”
There were more than 100,000 each of Cape May Warblers, Bay Breasted warblers and Tennessee warblers. 
Like the rest of the world, birders use Twitter, and they tweeted in delight:

Like the rest of the world, birders use Twitter, and they tweeted in delight:


Have you ever seen 100k Cape May warblers in a day? This person has, and it’s just the beginning of a mind-blowing day: 


This checklist is RIDICULOUS!!!!!
I have to go to this place next year. Being able to see this many birds in one place must have been overwhelming. 
Over 700,000 warblers! Look at this!! 


Good. God. This. EBird list. 
“See anything?”
“A little. 700,000 warblers”

The reason for the large number, Mr. Davies speculated, was that these are birds that eat the larvae of the spruce budworm, and their populations explode when the budworm numbers go up. 
He is not sure how he is going to top this day and joked, “I need to find a new hobby.”


From one of Ian's homeschool friends we grew up with... thanks for the great words, Jeff!

Huge congrats to Ian Davies for being the first of my childhood friends to not only get quoted in the New York friggin times, but to be profiled by the paper! You're an inspiration for everyone who wants to follow their passion, and I'm super proud that you've built a life around your love of birding.

From Left to right: Luke, Ian, Peter, Tim on a big day of birding in MA May 2015

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Brother and Sister at The Qutub Minar in Delhi, India

I had a wonderful visit yesterday to this minaret in Delhi, not sure I've ever seen a minaret before :-) The ruins around it were well kept and a popular spot visited by many locals and tourists alike on this beautiful day. 
My favorite part was watching the people enjoying their Saturday outing, and seeing families getting along so well. These 2 young ones were so expressive and I loved this series that told a story of a moment between brother and sister that I didn't think just one photo could do!

Just look at her little face, precious!

And this is what finally caught their attention, the Qutub Minar!

From good old Wikipedia:

The Qutub Minar  is a minaret that forms a part of the Qutab complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mehrauli area of DelhiIndia.

Qutab Ud-Din-Aibak, founder of the Delhi Sultanate, started construction of the Qutub Minar's first storey around 1192. In 1220, Aibak's successor and son-in-law Iltutmish completed a further three storeys. In 1369, a lightning strike destroyed the top storey. Firoz Shah Tughlaq replaced the damaged storey, and added one more.Sher Shah suri also added an entrance to this tower while he was ruling and Humayun was at an exile.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Welcome to India!

Welcome to India!
For the next 20 days or so I am very fortunate to be traveling in India, starting off in New Delhi.

I'm traveling solo for the first 5 days, then meeting up with a VegNews India tour that will take us to places around Northern India. So excited to actually be here after it being a bucket list destination for many years. The place I am staying, Bungalow 99 is lovely, so beautifully designed and comfortable, the owner has been very gracious showing me around the neighborhood personally and arranging for a driver to take me around to the sights.

Here are a few of my images from my very first morning here, February 28th, walking on foot in the Defense Colony area where I am staying!

This is the Defense Colony market area, which is really a lot of small shops all gathered around a park. There is an ATM here and people are very helpful. 
I am finding that the English spoken here is unlike any English I know, and I think the people who live here feel the same way about my English!

 Another street scene, I love the clothing worn by the women. My goal is to find something similar to buy here so I can blend in a little more.

 The ubiquitous auto rickshaw ... they are everywhere and keep up with larger cars in traffic, maybe even better as they are smaller to maneuver. The yellow and green color looks great and makes them easy to spot.

 Just a haircut in the street.

He doesn't look friendly in this photo, but he gave me a big smile and was happy to let me take photographs, I just missed the one with the smile.... 

Taken from the window in my hotel, I loved the simplify of it and the camaraderie these people seemed to have.

The challenge I'm putting out to my photo club for the month of March is Feet. Took this one while the floors were being cleaned this morning and loved it!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Beautiful Architecture in Paris!

What can I say about how beautiful Paris is besides showing it to you? These photos evoke for me the beauty of this city, and if you've been fortunate to be visit or live here, you know it's even better in person. Around every corner is something even more compelling to look at, and the backdrop of these skies... I'm in love!!!
J'aime Paris!!

I was standing on the Pont du Change looking over the Seine River towards the Conciergeri. I think the Conciergeri looks like a fairy tale castle with those turrets :-) 

A neighborhood produce store near where we're staying in Marais.

Looking smart while on his smart phone.

My view as I looked up at lunch, these 2 were joined by another friend and looked so good against the backdrop of the building. Man on the right is smoking, lots of smoking going on in Paris.

Susan and I found this lunch spot, perfect! View of the Panthéon in the background.

Area around the Panthéon.

The actual imposing Panthéon in Paris!!!

We wandered over to the Luxembourg gardens that are a few blocks from the Panthéon, and were treated to some wonderful landscapes, flowers and gardens!

A lovely pond for people to sail these small boats that were for rent at the Luxembourg gardens.

Another view at the Jardin du Luxembourg looking at the Luxembourg Palace.
This area is considered the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank.

At the end of the day Susan and I head back home near the Place des Vosges, our local park :-)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Walking around on a Sunday in Paris

Susan and I decided to walk to the Marche Des Enfants Rouge yesterday, Sunday, and as always walking anywhere is always richly rewarded with all kinds of sights and experiences. As it was Sunday, some of the main streets were closed off to cars, always a benefit to us pedestrians, and families were out and about.

Not 10 minutes from our apartment this friendly chef greeted us, love his hat and attitude!

Doggy love!

Closed to automobiles, nice.

 The Picasso museum certainly has a beautiful mansion to house his works of art.

Le Marche des Enfants Rouge... it was way too crowded for us to do more than walk through, but a lovely display of flowers were on sale.

 We spent a few hours at this cafe over a wonderful lunch watching the world go by.

 One of many cafes, it would take a lifetime to try them all... I'd love to give it a try :-)

 Amazing boulangeries that are more than mere bakeries.

 Inside a random church.

Stylin' on a scooter.

I remember when Ian had a difficult time deciding on which pastry to choose :-)

More doggy love...

Graffiti art.

A little humor for sale on the street.

Very focused.