The Big Day

ザ・ビッグデー 探鳥バトル同行記

By Kate Wong K. ウォン
English 日本語 日本語
On a warm day in late April, Frank Gallo is getting his steps in at one of his regular haunts: the sewage plant. He strolls along the paved trail outside the facility in Norwalk, Conn., scanning the pines on the left, the river on the right. Overhead eight Northern Rough-winged Swallows wheel in the cloudless sky, taking turns swooping into the water-treatment tanks to catch insects drawn to the nutrient-rich pools below. A Yellow Warbler belts out its not so humble brag—sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet.  4月下旬のある暖かな日,ギャロ(Frank Gallo)は定期的に訪ねている場所のひとつ,下水処理場の近くを歩いていた。コネティカット州ノーウォークにあるこの施設の外側,舗装された小道を歩きながら,左側の松の木々へ,右手の川へと視線を走らせる。頭上の雲ひとつない空で8羽のキタオビナシショウドウツバメが旋回し,水処理タンクに急降下して,栄養豊富な水に引き寄せられた昆虫を捕える。キイロアメリカムシクイが自慢げに「スイスイスイアムソースイ(sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet)」とさえずっていた。
Gallo, a naturalist and birder, has been coming to the sewage plant regularly since last fall, when a motley crew of warblers—Prairie, Cape May, Tennessee, Palm, Pine and Yellow-rumped—that should have headed south for the winter decided to stay here instead. Birders flocked to the site all winter, trudging up and down the icy trail in hopes of glimpsing the rarities foraging in the tanks and evergreens. Now, with spring migrants starting to appear throughout the northeast, the sewage plant crowd is thinning. But Gallo keeps returning because he wants to see when the Cape May and Tennessee Warblers depart for their breeding grounds up north. Although overwintering in Connecticut was risky, the survivors are now that much closer to where they need to be to establish a territory for the summer, find a mate and reproduce. Maybe they’ll get a head start, he muses. Such are the pleasures of birding—marveling at life’s diversity, pondering the rhythms of the natural world, feeding curiosity one question at a time, even in unglamorous locations.  ナチュラリストで探鳥家のギャロは前年の秋から,定期的にこの下水処理場を訪れていた。普通なら冬には南に向かうはずの様々な種類のアメリカムシクイ(チャスジアメリカムシクイ,ホオアカアメリカムシクイ,マミジロアメリカムシクイ,チャガシラアメリカムシクイ,マツアメリカムシクイ,キイロアメリカムシクイ)が,この場にとどまることにしたからだ。
Today Gallo is preoccupied with his next avian pursuit. In just a few weeks he and five of his friends—some of the top birders in the state—will be doing their annual Big Day, competing as a team to find as many bird species in Connecticut as they can by sight or sound in a 24-hour period. They’ll go midnight to midnight on a day of their choosing. Their goals: get 200 species, which no team in New England has ever been able to do; beat the existing New England record of 195 species, set by their archrivals in Massachusetts in 2014; best their own 2018 record of 193.  この日,ギャロは次の探鳥記録会のことで頭がいっぱいだった。彼と5人の友人(同州のトップ探鳥家に数えられる人々)でチームを組んで実施している毎年恒例の「ビッグデー」が,わずか数週間後に控えている。これは州内で24時間にできるだけ多くの種の鳥を目視または鳴き声によって見つけ出し,チーム単位でその種数を競うものだ。真夜中から次の真夜中まで,自分たちで選んだ日に行われる。
To accomplish any of these objectives, the team needs to figure out ahead of time where the hard-to-find birds are likely to be found. And it has to design a driving route that maximizes the number of sites the players can hit across the state and the amount of time they have at each one to see or hear the target species. Seconds count—there will be no pausing to admire one bird’s dazzling plumage or another’s melodious song, no studying a fascinating behavior or puzzling over an unexpected sighting. As a friend of his once quipped about Big Days, Gallo says, “This isn’t birding. This is war.”  チームがこれらの目標のいずれかを達成するには,見つけにくい鳥を観察できそうな場所を事前に調べておく必要がある。また,車でめぐるルートをうまく設計し,州全体でメンバーが行くことのできる場所の数と,それぞれの場所で狙いの種を見たり聞いたりするための時間を最大にする必要もある。1秒たりとも無駄にはできない。鳥の羽の美しさを愛でたり歌に聞き入ったりしている暇はない。興味深い行動を調べる余裕も,予期せぬものを目撃してあれは何だろうと考える時間もない。ギャロはビッグデーについて,かつてある友人に皮肉られたように,「これはバードウォッチングではない。戦争なのだ」という。