May 2023.  The Northumberland Land Trust (NLT) 15th Annual Birding Marathon’s participants identified 150 species this year, a 12% increase over last year’s Marathon.  Experienced bird watchers for each of NLT’s 13 Nature Reserves, which cover 1,267 acres of habitat in Northumberland County, and had a single, 24-hour period of their choice to identify the birds. In early June, the total number of species across all reserves was tallied.  Last year, 132 species were identified. In 2016 there were 106 (but NLT only had 6 properties at that time).  Every year there are surprise sightings as well as birds returning to the same nesting area.  The rarest bird this year was the identification of the Nelson’s Sparrow in the Lone Pine Marsh Nature Reserve.  Nelson’s Sparrows are rarely seen in this area.  Among the other species that have appeared are: Hooded Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Red-throated Loon, and a Great Horned Owl. 

The Birding Marathon is one of the NLT’s annual fundraisers.  Donors guess how many species of birds will be found. Whoever is closest wins a litre of maple syrup from the NLT’s Wilkinson Nature Reserve.  The winner of the 15th Birding Marathon contest is Richard Girardin.  He guessed 140 species of birds on NLT’s reserves, which was the closest guess to the record-breaking total of 150 bird species.

Richard Girardin with his maple syrup prize from Northumberland Land Trust