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Twitchers in the Rye Win the 2018 Townie Award

By New Hampshire Bird Records January 31, 2018
(Left to right) Becky Suomala, Jenna Peppipas, Kathryn Frieden, Susan Wrisley

The “Twitchers in the Rye” competed in the Superbowl of Birding Saturday, January 27, 2018, on the NH Seacoast. This was their 10th year of birding in the town of Rye and they won the newly created Townie Award for teams that bird in just one municipality.

After the brutally cold weather in early January, it was a terrific day for the Superbowl of Birding. This year’s team members were Susan Wrisley, Jenna Pettipas, Kathryn Frieden, and team captain Becky Suomala. Although they were predicting a lower than usual total because of the cold weather in early January, they were right on average with 59 species (for the fourth year in a row), and 104 points which is actually on the high side (average 98).

The three species of owls were a highlight for the team, including a Barred Owl that flew in silently as Becky imitated the tooting of a Northern Saw-whet Owl. The team pulled out a flashlight to confirm the identification. A Pine Warbler, usually seen only in warmer weather, was one of their four point birds, seen for only the second time by the Twitchers. A Green-winged Teal was a team first and it was accompanied by a Northern Pintail, both three point birds. Despite the increase in Wild Turkeys, the Twitchers are lucky to find them in Rye and had them only one other year before this one. Red-winged Blackbirds, a typical harbinger of spring, were in two places and although they are not unusual for the Twitchers, they didn’t expect them after the January deep freeze.

The Twitchers raise more than $2,500 for bird conservation and the team is grateful for all the enthusiasm and support. Look for an expanded write-up of the Twitchers’ adventures on the NH Bird Records website, read about their past results, or make a donation.