On Saturday, 10 May 2003, a group of birders celebrated International Migratory Bird Day by vacuuming the County to find as many bird species as they could. However, what lead up to this particular IMBD has a little history that should be shared. In 2000 an amazing 196 species were found and opened the question Can 200 species be found in an inland county without access to pelagic birds? In CA, coastal counties and those fronting on the Salton Sea can usually break the 200 mark without too much trouble but dry counties are another story. IMBD in 2001 was a bust due to horrific weather but in 2002, as observer after observer replied Yes as the list of bird species was read, we knew the day was one of the best ever but did we break the magical 200? No, we ONLY tallied 199 but the competitive gleam in the eyes of the group was electric, and vows were made to bring bigger and better vacuums next year!

A couple of months before IMBD, the guerilla war council convened and all species that were seen every year in good numbers were eliminated because they will come to us. We worked the list of target birds, and each group identified where each species could be found in their area. The lists were worked and reworked until each species had at least three groups looking for it in three different areas. Some species could only be found in one area and these were the Dont come home til you get it! species. Now all we needed was a large turnout of birds, birders, and great weather.

From dark oclock until dusk oclock, 41 observers (the most ever) scoured the Owens Valley, White Mountains and Deep Springs, Inyo Mountains, Eastern Sierra canyons, Saline Valley, China Ranch, and Death Valley looking and listening for all the birds they could find. Tradition, and exhaustion, has determined that the countdown (and the best potluck in the Valley) is held the next day. Again, the observers were replying Yes repeatedly and, as the checklist filled up with checks, everybody knew they were a part of something special. At the end of the countdown, the group let out a collective Wow! at the 219 species that were found! From hoping that we could break 200 to blowing right past it was exhilarating for everybody involved. Some had wondered if emphasizing the search for species would lessen the numbers of total individuals. The group found 16,780 individual birds, almost a 50% increase over the previous high of 11,242. This reflects on the wide coverage by a large number of observers on a day that the birds chose to migrate. Biological confluence is beautiful!

Never let it be said that an individual does not make a difference. Of the 219 species, 40 were seen by only one person or group (usually only two people). Chris Howard and Rosie Beach were the only ones to find Cassins Kingbird, Juniper Titmouse, Red Crossbill, and, incredibly, a BLACK-BACKED WAGTAIL, an Asian species new to the County; Jim Parker had American Wigeon, Red-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches and White-throated Sparrow; Debby Parker found Wilsons Snipe, MEW GULL (which she added to the County list 2 days earlier!) and Black-and-white Warbler; Judy Wickman found an amazing Long-tailed Duck, Coopers Hawk, and Cedar Waxwing; Susan Steele had Mountain Quail, Willow Flycatcher, and Canyon Towhee; Kelli Levinson added Red-breasted Merganser, Cactus Wren, and California Thrasher; Andrew and Leah Kirk found Least Bittern and Black Swift; Derrick Vocelka had Cattle Egret and Sharp-shinned Hawk; Barb Toth found two Evening Grosbeaks; Mike and Nancy Prather added a Whimbrel; Gerry & Vicki Wolfe found a Peregrine Falcon; Sacha Stuart had Ring-necked Pheasant in her yard; Bob Maurer, Jr. added Franklin’s Gull; James Wilson had a Lucys Warbler, Tom Heindel found Gambels Quail, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Bells Vireo, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and Summer Tanager; Jo Heindel added Canada Geese (2 adults with 5 goslings), Canvasback, Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, and Calliope Hummingbird. Others who helped count and added substantial numbers were Kathy Duvall, Lee Dykus, Jack and Marilyn Ferrell, Tim Forsell, Carolyn Gann, Betty Gilchrist, John & Ros Gorham, Steve Holland, Bob Hudson, Bill Mitchel, Larry Nahm, Richard Potashin, Beverly Schroeder, Michael Thornton, Bob Toth, Lynna Walker, Drew Wickman, John Williams, James Wilson, and Jerry Zatorski.

Inyo County received national recognition for ranking 3rd in the Nation for total number of species found in a county (or parish) in one day on IMBD. This may be a record that will stand for a long time, on the other hand

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