Big Sit! 2018

Location: Glenmere Lake Park, Mayor Harter Lane, Florida, New York
Date: October 13, 2018
Team Captain: Kathleen Ashman

To kick off the Mearns Club’s 60th anniversary year, we’ll be holding a Big Sit! in conjunction with the annual, international Big Sit! hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest and founded by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club. This is a noncompetitive birding event; however, each team that observes this year’s “Golden Bird” has a chance to win $500 for their organization. The Golden Bird is a North American bird species that is chosen at random by the New Haven Bird Club at its December meeting. The names of all Big Sit! teams that spotted that bird are placed in a hat for a random drawing. The team that wins the $500 prize from Swarovski (the event sponsor) can donate it to a conservation cause or project of its choice. The 2017 Golden Bird was a Long-billed Curlew, the 2016 bird was a Mallard, the 2015 bird was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, the 2014 bird was a Great Kiskadee, the 2013 bird was a Gray Flycatcher, and the 2012 bird was a Sedge Wren. If you’re interested in knowing the Golden Birds from earlier years, visit the Big Sit! website.

The Big Sit! can best be described as a tailgate party for birders and is meant to be fun rather than competitive. There are, however, established rules that need to be followed.

Big Sit! Rules

These rules have been copied from the Big Sit! website.

  • Observations can be made from any area within the state/country you live in or wish to represent.
  • Observations can be made only from within your predetermined 17-foot (diameter) circle.
  • There’s no limit to how many people can occupy one circle (other than the obvious spatial limitations). Bring some chairs. Have a picnic or barbecue. Welcome passers-by and their contributions to your list.
  • If a bird is seen or heard from within the circle but is too distant to identify, the circle can be left to get a closer look/listen to confirm the bird’s identity. However, any new bird species seen or heard while confirming the original can’t be counted unless it’s seen or heard from an “anchor” who stayed behind in your circle, or is seen by you when you return to your circle.
  • Tally the number of species that you observe.
  • Big Sit! participants can work in shifts. No one person needs to be there throughout the whole Big Sit! The area can be left and returned to as frequently as desired, but you must be sure to return to the exact 17-foot-diameter circle each time.
  • The same circle must be used for the entire Big Sit!
  • The Big Sit! will begin at 12:00 midnight and end 24 hours later.
  • The Big Sit! has traditionally been held annually on the second Sunday in October. However some participants are unable to sit on Sundays, so we’ve opened up the Sit to include the Saturday (the day prior to the second Sunday). This also allows for flexibility in cases of bad weather. Sitters are encouraged, when reporting their results, to indicate on which date they are conducting their Big Sit!
  • All Big Sit! circles are encouraged to register prior to the Sit and to input their results after the Sit is over. This is the best way for Big Sit! circles to share their results, and it ensures that the circle is eligible for the Golden Bird Prize.

Glenmere Lake Park Restrictions

These restrictions have been copied from the park’s webpage.

  • The park is open from dawn to dusk.
  • Cars are allowed on the roadway and parking lot only. Parking on the roadway and overnight parking is not permitted. No vehicles, boats or trailers are allowed to park between the road and shoreline, except at designated areas.
  • No alcoholic beverages are permitted.
  • Glass bottles are prohibited.
  • Please deposit all trash in the receptacles provided.
  • Dogs must be leashed at all times, and owners must pick up after them.
  • No all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), motorbikes, or snowmobiles are permitted in the park or along the trails.
  • No swimming is permitted in Glenmere Lake.
  • No gas motors are allowed on or near the reservoir.
  • No tents, camping, campfires, bonfires, or cook fires are permitted without special village permits.
  • All open fires are DEC prohibited.
  • A reservation fee and an approved permit are required for use of the Mance Pavilion.
  • Any abuse of the park or failure to comply with all regulations will result in the revocation of all park privileges.

Planning for the Day

  • Dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Bring a chair to sit on.
  • Bring food and beverages. (Both the Village of Chester and the Village of Florida are nearby if you want to make a food and beverage run during the day.)
  • Bring your binoculars and a scope if you have one.
  • Bring your sense of humor as well as your sharp eyes and ears.
  • There is a lovely 1.75-mile hiking trail at Glenmere that you may wish to take advantage of during the day. If you plan on hiking, wear footwear appropriate for hiking and the weather. The trail is clearly marked, and the path is well defined but uneven.
  • There are bathrooms on site; however, they are not always unlocked. We may have to drive ourselves off site when nature calls.
  • We plan to bring an easel to record the birds we see; however, if it’s windy we’ll use a clipboard.
  • Note that you don’t have to stay for the entire day and can come and go as you please. If possible, please let Kathleen Ashman (845-421-5478 or know whether and when you plan to participate.

Here’s to fair weather, good companionship, and lots of fabulous birds on October 13!

If you have any questions, please call Kathleen at 845-421-5478 or email her at

Good birding!