Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory

7th annual Big Sit! on Oct. 11 at Forest Beach

The Noel J. Cutright Bird Club will host its seventh annual Big Sit at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve on Sunday, Oct. 11, from dawn to dusk. The club invites anyone to come out and spend all or part of the day
enjoying the sights and sounds of one of Ozaukee County’s outdoor treasures. If you show up for the early morning shift you might even get to sample some incredible pastries from Belgium's Bee's Bakery.

The FBMP Migrants team, led by the club’s Rebecca Sher and Seth Cutright, had a fantastic 2014 Big Sit! Their 17-foot circle is on the perfectly-sized Bill Cowart Memorial Hawk Watch Platform at Forest Beach, north of Port Washington in the Town of Belgium. Team members called the platform home for 12 hours and helped tally 70 species, topping the previous record of 59 set in 2011.

Among the counters was the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory’s waterbird watcher, Calvin Brennan, who early in the day joined Dani Baumann along with Sher and Cutright, whose late father, Noel, launched this count in 2009 as a way for the Riveredge Bird Club (since renamed in his honor) to support the fledgling observatory.

The Big Sit! is an annual, international, noncompetitive birding event held during the second weekend in October hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest, founded by the New Haven (Conn.) Bird Club and sponsored by Swarovski Optik. The Big Sit! is like a Big Day or a birdathon in that the object is to tally as many species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours. The difference lies in the area limitation from which you may observe.

Some people have called it a “tailgate party for birders.” Find a good spot for bird watching — preferably one with good views of a variety of habitats and lots of birds. Next, create a real or imaginary circle 17 feet in diameter and sit inside the circle for 24 hours, counting all the bird species you see or hear. (Coming and going is encouraged, particularly if it involves sharing food and beverages.) That’s it. Find a spot, sit in it, have fun. Then submit your findings.

Last year, Big Sit! events took place in 44 states and a number of foreign countries. Four teams were fielded in Wisconsin, and those same four teams plan to take part again the weekend of Oct. 10-11.