Centre County birds 194-195: American Pipit and Caspian Tern, May 1st 2010 on the Shaver’s Creek Birding Cup

The Turnstones, from left to right: Matt, Melissa, Kris, and Clay

From Friday 7 PM April 30th to Saturday 7 PM May 1st, Melissa, Kris, and Clay and I competed in the 12th annual Shaver’s Creek Birding Cup. I’ll be writing a separate blog post on the whole 24 hours soon, but we spotted two species that were county bids for me during the day on Saturday!





American Pipit in California. Photo by Maggie Smith at http://www.flickr.com/photos/slomaggie/3427648894/ (Creative Commons 2.0)

We went to look for Vesper Sparrows that had been seen and heard singing west of State College, close to where I’d found one a month before. We were out of luck on that species, but as we drove back towards a main road through the farms, Melissa spotted some birds walking through the crops near the road. American Pipits! At least 10 or so casually walked past small plants and over the rows, picking at insects invisible to us. I gave Melissa a big hug for the bonus big day bird and the completely unexpected county bird for me. Pipits migrate through Centre County and sometimes winter but I’d given up on this species by the end of April.

Caspian Terns in New York. Photo by Tim Lenz at http://www.flickr.com/photos/seabamirum/2902826830/ (Creative Commons 2.0)

Late in the day at Bald Eagle State Park, our last major stop of the day, the four of us were checking near the beach for some last minute waterbird species. The swimming beach didn’t hold much, so I walked northeast along the shore and past a picnic pavilion to where I could see a small cove and spit. Even with out my binoculars or scope I immediately saw some large white birds with black caps and large, bright red bills. With the scope I could easily identify these terns as Caspian Terns, a species that migrates though inland Pennsylvania fairly regularly; small numbers are seen each spring and fall. We couldn’t enjoy these birds for too long, as it was already 6:30 PM and we had to be back in State College to turn in our list in 30 minutes!

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