During our October Big Day 2020 we will make sure to cover the coastline in search of Shorebirds. In the picture a Ruddy Turnstone escapes from the waves in Tarifa, Strait of Gibraltar. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.

October Big Day 2020: our plan for the biggest day of the season!

In English by Yeray Seminario

During our October Big Day 2020 we will make sure to cover the coastline in search of Shorebirds. In the picture a Ruddy Turnstone escapes from the waves in Tarifa, Strait of Gibraltar. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.
During our October Big Day 2020 we will make sure to cover the coastline in search of Shorebirds. In the picture a Ruddy Turnstone escapes from the waves in Tarifa, Strait of Gibraltar. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.

As some of you know, October Big Day 2020 is coming! It will be on 17 October 2020 and we have a plan to make the most out of it. This is an initiative of Cornell Lab of Ornithology which basically consists on uploading as many bird lists to eBird as possible in 24 hours. All the data that is collected is of great use for birders, conservationists and scientists to better understand and protect birds.

This year’s October Big Day 2020 is happening during the first Global Bird Weekend. The goal of Global Bird Weekend is to support BirdLife International’s project to end illegal bird trade. We will also participating in the Global bird Weekend and you can sign up too, either as an individual or a team.

We are big supporters of eBird and all related initiatives such as the Global Big day, in which we have participated since 2013.. In fact, we started collaborating with Cornell and conformed the first team of reviewers in Spain. One of our first tasks was translating the list of birds in Spain, so Spanish users would find the platform attractive and useful. Since then, we have partnered with other organisations and built a large team of reviewers to make eBird España a great eBird portal. Thanks to these collaborative efforts, currently Spain occupies the fifth position in the ranking of countries with more lists uploaded to eBird. A great accomplishment thanks to more than 11.000 observers in the country!

Birding The Strait’s October Big Day 2020: Two Teams in two continents

Rufous-crested Coquette in Panama. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.
The Whitehawk team will be immersed in the Panama forests to surely build up a nice list of colorful tropical delights, like this Rufous-crested Coquette. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.

As in previous editions of the Global Big Day and the October Big Day, both Birding The Strait and Whitehawk Birding and Conservation will be participating. Our colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic will be birding in Panama, one of the best birding destinations of the world, being on the top 20 with the largest number of bird species.

As for the Spanish team, we will be birding in the province of Cadiz, one of the best birding regions in Spain. Indeed, Cadiz has the second largest list of bird species in Spain, according to eBird data. However, we will also separate in two groups: one will cover the sea, and the other will cover land.

Birding Team 1: a pelagic trip to enjoy seabirds

Great Skua in the Gulf of Cadiz. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.
We have arranged a very special pelagic for this Global Big Day 2020. We will surely add some nice birds to our list, like this Great Skua. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.

On this very special day we have programmed a Pelagic off Chipiona. For the fifth time this season, Javi will be taking a group of adventurous seawatchers to find as many species of seabirds as possible in the Gulf of Cadiz. We will follow the eBird Pelagic Protocol, to make sure that our observations are valuable to the knowledge and conservation of seabirds. If weather conditions are favorable, we expect to see good numbers of Balearic, Cory’s and Scopoli’s Shearwaters, along with Great, Arctic and Pomarine Skuas (or Parasitic and Pomarine Jaegers for our American friends!). Who knows, we might even add the scarce Sabine’s Gull for the province during the October Big Day.

Birding Team 2: a productive and mindful approach

The European Stonechat is very common in our local patch of La Janda, and will surely be an addition to our list during the October Big Day 2020. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.
The European Stonechat is very common in our local patch of La Janda, and will surely be an addition to our list during the October Big Day 2020. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.

On the other hand, Yeray and a group of fellow local birders will be hitting some of the best birding hotspots in the province. We have designed the shortest route between these productive sites, to get the maximum number of species of birds as possible in one day, while driving the shortest distance and cutting global warming emissions. Luckily, some of the best locations are very close to Tarifa, our hometown: La Janda, the Barbate marshes and the vicinities of Tarifa will be some of the places we will be visit, offering an excellent combination of raptors, shorebirds and both resident and migratory passerines, which are abundant in our area. We will surely look for some of the most charismatic ones too, like the Spanish Imperial Eagle, the Northern Bald Ibis and the Marbled Teal.

Joining forces at night

We intend to take advantage of all the hours we can on October 17 to see and hear the greatest number of species, including nocturnal birds, like this Tawny Owl in Tarifa. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.
We intend to take advantage of all the hours we can on October 17 to see and hear the greatest number of species, including nocturnal birds, like this Tawny Owl in Tarifa. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.

We intend to make the most out of the day… and night! There are a few nocturnal birds that we will be working to locate, mostly by hearing. October is a good month for owls, as most of them begin to be quite vocal. Also, we might get the first Short-eared Owls that migrate to southern Spain in the winter time. Other owls that we are likely to hear will be Barn Owl, Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Long-eared Owl, Tawny Owl and Little Owl. Hopefully all of them!

What should we expect

American Golden Plover in Los Lances, Cadiz. Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.
October is a great time for rarities in Cadiz. Will we be able to find great birds such as this American Golden Plover in our Global Big Day 2020? Photography by Yeray Seminario, Birding The Strait.

We are planing on making our best Global Big Day yet! October is a great time for birding in Cadiz, and we think that we can make a good tally. In fact, October is, without a doubt, the best month to find rarities and scarce birds in the province, all of Andalucia and Spain. Some of the rare birds we have been fortunate to see in previous years in October include: American Golden Plover, Sociable Lapwing, Greater Spotted-Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Citrine Wagtail, Common Rosefinch and Little Bunting, to name just a few!

But the Global Big Day is not about rarities, but about celebrating all birds and sharing them with everyone. We will be posting our sightings in our social networks and using the hashtag #octoberbigday to share via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can also keep an eye on the official October Big Day page by the Cornell Lab.

How you can participate on the October Big Day 2020

Of course, anyone can join on the October Big Day 2020 and make a contribution to bird knowledge. If you are new to eBird, it’s very easy to get an eBird account. You can sign up and find all the information you need here. It’s entirely free and very intuitive to use. However, it’s always good to check out the free eBird Essentials course.

If you have an eBird account and you are familiar with it, you already know how it works. you simply have to watch birds on 17 October. You have 24 hours to see or hear as many birds as possible, count them and marking them on your checklists. Every single list helps!

The October Big Day 2020 it’s a good reason to enjoy a day in the field. Either if you go with your family, a group of friends or on your own, be safe and have fun!