Tomorrow, Sept. 9, is the 28th anniversary of the record-setting Hour on the Tower, a record matched 15 years ago in October. I wrote about the notorious tie score in my journal at the time in 2003 ....
Here's a recap (some things have changed):
Sunday, Oct. 5, 2003
By Seymour Drakes
It’s called the Hour on the Tower, and here’s how it works. Every Sunday morning from 8 to 9, July through October, an informal group of birders meets at the Celery Farm Natural Area in Allendale to see how many species of birds they can see in exactly one hour.
For experienced birders, the Hour is a great way to get fresh air, flex one’s eyeballs, see some nifty birds, and avoid chores. For neophytes, it’s a great way to learn bird identification, hear bad jokes, and ... avoid chores.
Some Hours are better than others, and the one on Oct. 5 had the makings of a classic. The day before, birder savant and ring leader Stiles Thomas surveyed the abundant waterfowl on Lake Appert and proclaimed that this Sunday offered a shot at besting the record for most species seen during one Hour.
The record was not exactly chopped (Canada goose) liver. It had stood for more than 13 years, ever since the all-star team of Charles Mayhood, Mr. Thomas, and Gordon Schultze -– “in our prime,” Mr. Thomas quickly noted –- saw or heard 42 species between droll jokes one magical September Sunday.
For an idea of how awesome this is, consider that a crack team of birders recently perched on the Pirie Platform for 12 hours for the Big Sit and saw a total of 56 species – or just 14 more species in 12 times as much time.
(Editor’s note: This is why the event is the Big Sit and not the Big Watch.)
Yet few could have guessed how this Hour would turn out.
Here’s how it went down.