The third annual 24 consecutive hour “Midnight Sun Big Sit” took place again this year during the Kenai Bird Festival. The 2015 Kenai Birding Festival’s 24 Hour Midnight Sun Big Sit was held Saturday May 16, 0600 hours through Sunday May 17, 0600 hours at the wildlife viewing platform, on Boat Launch Road, overlooking the Kenai Flats. Over 50 people participated and 58 bird species were tallied. Temperatures were seasonably mild with a low of 32 and a high of 50. Skies were partly cloudy and though winds were calm early on, during most of the event winds were variable to 10 MPH reported U.S. Wildlife Service Biological Technician Toby Burke. “The purpose of the event is to highlight the resources of the Kenai Flats. It’s our backyard and I think a lot of times people think first and foremost of the Kenai as it relates to fish, but those of us who make their livings with birds also realize that it’s a tremendous resource for birds. It’s so open that many people think it’s barren of birds when actually it’s very rich. When putting together a new check list of all the birds that have been seen on the Kenai flats and it came out to 187 species. And while we have the largest gull colony in the state and they are very conspicuous many of the other birds are not so conspicuous,” said Burke in an interview.
While many folks from across Alaska and the Peninsula participate in the festival each year, but some came from as far away as Norway for the festival, “They came here and were seeing birds that were first time sightings on their life list and they were very excited to be here and finding the Kenai flats as a great place to find birds,” said Burke. Following is the complete list of bird sightings during the 24 hour Big Sit: (* Denotes new count species)
110 Greater White-fronted Goose, 3 Brant, 40 Cackling Goose, 9 Canada Goose, 40 American Wigeon, 15 Mallard ducks, 25 Northern Shoveler, 20 Northern Pintail, 30 Green-winged Teal, 2 Greater Scaup, 2 Bufflehead*, 3 Common Merganser, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 50 Bald Eagle, 3 Northern Harrier, 34 Sandhill Crane, 4 Black-bellied Plover, 7 Semipalmated Plover, 12 Greater Yellowlegs, 5 Lesser Yellowlegs, 6 Whimbrel, 10 Hudsonian Godwit, 1 Red Knot, 35 Dunlin, 10 Least Sandpiper, 50 Pectoral Sandpiper, 3 Semipalmated Sandpiper, 100 Western Sandpiper, 13 Short-billed Dowitcher, 5 Long-billed Dowitcher, 1 Wilson Snipe, 5 Red-necked Phalarope, 1 Bonaparte’s Gull, 300 Mew Gull, 40,000 Herring Gull, 400 Glaucous-winged Gull 75 Arctic Tern, 1 Hairy Woodpecker*, 1 Merlin, 2 Black-billed Magpie, 5 Northwestern Crow, 4 Common Raven, 2 Tree Swallow, 6 Violet-green Swallow, 1 Black-capped Chickadee, 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1 American Robin, 8 American Pipit, 6 Lapland Longspur, 5 Orange-crowned Warbler, 4 Yellow-rumped Warbler, 4 Savannah Sparrow, 1 Fox Sparrow, 6 Lincoln Sparrow, 1 White-crowned Sparrow, 3 Dark-eyed Junco, 15 Common Redpoll, 1 Pine Siskin*