Copyright © Friends of Memorial Lake and Swatara State Parks. All rights reserved.

October is when many birders look forward to the Big Sit! Fall bird migration is still going on and this provides a fun opportunity to see how your area stacks up to other areas around the world when it comes to finding birds.

The New Haven, Connecticut Bird Club started, what has now become an autumn tradition for many birders, in 1999 and the event is hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest with Swarovski Optik as the sponsor. It is a non-competitive event, although many birders will compare their observations to those of other birding groups. Teams from all over the world participate in this event. Those of us who live in Pennsylvania can be proud that we have had the largest number of teams participating in this event in the last few years.

The rules are fairly simple. A team of birders gets together to count whatever birds they see or hear in an area. There’s just one small catch. Each team chooses a 17-foot diameter circle (real or imaginary) in a selected location. Then the team counts what it sees and hears from that circle. One team member may leave the circle to check out a bird that has been spotted from the circle to make certain of identification. There must be a member of the team in the circle at all times, and only the birds seen or heard from the circle may be counted.

The event is often called “tailgating for birders.” Teams bring snacks and drinks (non-alcoholic) and settle in for a day of birding. Some teams do a 24 hour bird-a-thon. Others spend only a few hours.

The team for the Friends of Memorial Lake and Swatara State Parks will again participate this year. The event will be held on October 9, 2016 from approximately 5:30 AM until 8:30 PM. Our circle is located in the old Suedberg air- field which is a perfect location for birding since it encompasses a number of different habitats. So bring a chair, a pair of binoculars, bug spray, and some refreshments and join us for The Big Sit! You do not have to be there for the entire time. Come and go as you please. This is a perfect opportunity for you to see what birding is all about, and why it is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the country.

If you have any questions contact Dave McNaughton at 717-273-7341.  Directions for parking are provided below.

Parking for participants is available in the Special Events Parking Lot off of State Route 443 in Suedberg.  Overflow parking will be at Swopes Valley Trailhead.    Viisitors can access the site from the Swatara Rail Trail.  Event signs will be posted.  An image showing the participant Special Events Parking area and access route is shown below.