The 5th Annual Seatuck LI Birding Challenge was conducted on 15 September this year, and although the light southeast winds were not the most favorable for migration, the weather was pleasant and cool, and a great variety of species was found. Ten teams competed this year, and it was exciting to welcome three new teams (Jack Gro Dim, Brooklyn Dippers and Bird Brainz). Total participants numbered 39, and it was this robust coverage that afforded the high number and variety of species. The teams found a total of 180 species, amazingly just four shy of last year's total when we had a windfall overnight migration preceding the count morning. The cumulative total for the five years now stands at 231, with a dozen species added this year: Great Shearwater, Tricolored Heron, Sora, Whimbrel, Western Sandpiper, Whip-poor-will, Black-billed Cuckoo, Red-headed Woodpecker, Purple Martin, Cliff Swallow, Worm-eating Warbler, and Blue Grosbeak. Changing things up a bit this year, some of the long-time teams re-amalgamated alliances, morphing into new iterations of old teams. And in a departure from traditional strategies of past years, Pteam Ptarmigeddon confined their efforts to Suffolk County only, and the VizMig Whizzes made the decision to do a Big Sit, barely moving 50 feet from the Fire Island Hawkwatch platform! Others traveled far and wide, from Brooklyn to the East End. All Wings Considered (with one replacement member this year) defended their 2017 title as champions, coming in with an official total of 121 species (with one species inadvertently left off the list, they actually saw 122). In second place were the Four Harbors Herons, with 112, and in third place, Pteam Ptarmigeddon with an impressive 106 species in Suffolk County exclusively. Pteam Ptarmigeddon led with the most saves, eight in all: Whimbrel, Long-billed Dowitcher, Least Tern, Whip-poor-will, Philadelphia Vireo, Cliff Swallow, Worm-eating Warbler, and Connecticut Warbler. Other saves were Bird Brainz: Hooded Merganser, Wild Turkey, Clapper Rail, Solitary Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Eastern Phoebe, and Lincoln's Sparrow Bearded Vultures: American Bittern, Hudsonian Godwit, Western Sandpiper, Magnolia Warbler, and Indigo Bunting VizMig Whizzes: Tricolored Heron, Black Tern, Purple Martin, Prairie Warbler, and Rusty Blackbird Brooklyn Dippers: Pied-billed Grebe, Black-billed Cuckoo, Horned Lark, and Baltimore Oriole Four Harbors Herons: Pectoral Sandpiper, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler All Wings Considered: Willow Flycatcher and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Stealthy Ibis: Ovenbird It was another great Challenge, topped off as always by a lively compilation dinner at Scully Mansion. Proceeds from the event will go to support environmental and conservation issues, always a worthy cause. Thanks to Enrico Nardone and the Seatuck team for organizing and hosting this increasingly popular and exciting event. For more information on this important organization and to view the complete list of species and team results, go to https://www.seatuck.org/ We hope to see everyone back next year, and welcome new teams to join us!
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