As I drove to the starting point from my motel south of the "Soo" and as I have done most mornings, I listened to WLW - 700 from Cincinnati, the home of "my" baseball team - the Reds. The station was forecasting temperatures in the mid-to-high 80s in much of the Midwest, and my car's thermometer read 40 degrees (actually 39 degrees when I started my 3-minute period at stop 1 at 4:14 am). I couldn't believe that I was going to experience an almost 50 degree swing for the day, but I did because as I passed through Marinette in the early afternoon, the temperature hit 89 degrees! By the time I arrived in Waupaca for the night, it was 82 degrees.
Today's route was almost entirely within the Hiawatha National Forest and was almost entirely within pine (mostly jack) habitat. The route passed near more wetland habitat than the previous day's. I dreamed of hearing a Kirtland's Warbler in the young jack pine stands, because a few pair have been breeding in the UP for the past several years, but none materialized. The species total hit 55, which is similar to the total attained the only 2 times the route has been run in 1992 and 1993. I did manage to hear both crossbill species as they flew overhead and tallied 22 Evening Grosbeaks and 7 Lincoln's Sparrows. The 5 Whip-poor-wills and 3 Common Nighthawks also were nice additions to the route's list for the day. The most abundant species was Hermit Thrush (67 individuals); I heard at least 1 hermit at each of the first 28 stops. The hermit was followed by Ovenbird (50), Nashville Warbler (47), and White-throated Sparrow (33).
I've been thinking about why I so much enjoy conducting BBSs. One of the reasons is that I have a biologist's perspective. Since I work with a lot of engineers at We Energies, I've often teased them about wanting everything to be black-and-white, straight and level, as expected, and with no surprises. Biologists relish the thought of the unusual, the unexpected, the rarity, the surprise, the gray, etc. I believe that birders (and bird watchers) hold similar viewpoints. No matter how many times you look at your feeder or drive that same road to work, there is always a chance to spy a new species or to observe some bird behavior or interaction that is new and therefore is neat.
Another reason for my loving BBSs comes from childhood experiences. Everyone loves Christmas and opening presents, and my family enjoyed giving each other lots of presents but small ones. I don't think we ever spent as much in total as what 1 major family gift would cost. Most of our presents cost less than $10 and certainly under $20. But, oh, the thrill of the anticipation and the looking and wondering about all of those wrapped presents under the Christmas tree in the days, which seemed very long when you were young, leading up to Christmas morning. A BBS is similar - each stop is a present and there are 50 of them! And the anticipation of what species each stop will present is exciting, and I can now say, yes, exciting even after 1,648 of them over a 33-day period.
As I did the previous day, I had another route problem. The hand-written descriptions for the stops included this warning - "watch for bad spot on road between 28-29!!" Well, I guess that spot became bad enough for the Forest Service to abandon the road as it was blocked with a ditch at one end and a gate at the other. So I had to detour on another barely 2-track road and approached it from the other direction. Fortunately, this affected only a short section of the route and caused me to miss only stop 29. So for the entire Campaign, I missed this stop and 1 stop on a route in western MN.
And now it is on to Wisconsin for my last route in northern Waushara County.