Thursday, December 31, 2009

NMT - December 2009

December 2009
Species list: 0 / Distance travelled: 21kilometress

December flew by, and though I didn’t add any new species, I did get out for some local birding. With talk of Common Redpoll around, I concentrated my efforts at the Englishman River Estuary. I staked out some Birch and Alder trees on three occasions, but dipped-out on the Redpoll. My final count for 2009 was 207 species and I travelled a distance of 1232 kilometres from my home in Parksville, coming in third overall. Guy Monty came in second place with 215 species and Mike McGrenere of Victoria, came in first, with a whopping 219 species. A big thanks to Guy Monty and the late, Dr. John Brighton, who came up with this crazy challenge at the end of 2008.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Anna's Hummingbird

Another attempt to locate a Common Redpoll produced my usual result: zero! I spent an hour underneath some Birch and Alder trees, willing a Redpoll to miraculously appear in the mix of Pine Siskins that were feeding above me. Alas none materialized. Dark-eyed Junco, Song Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Shrike and an adult female Cooper's Hawk kept me company during my vigil. I followed the path at the bottom of Mills Road to Shelly Road where more Pine Siskins were feeding but much higher up in the canopy. Whilst scanning through these birds an adult male Anna's Hummingbird landed in front of me. It only stayed for a few seconds then vanished, a minute later I noticed another Anna's Hummingbird tucked up in some brambles. This local area produced 5 individual Anna's Hummingbird on the Christmas Bird Count this year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Parksville & Qualicum Christmas Bird Count 2009

A wet and windy day produced a lower than expected count total for our team. Having said that, we did put in a full day with maximum effort and our spirits remained high despite the adverse weather conditions. Our day started off with some owling along Claymore Road in Qualicum. We made several stops, listening and tooting for owls and our efforts paid off after nearly an hour with a callback: Northern Saw-Whet Owl, followed shortly after with a fly over Great Horned Owl. Next, we headed back out onto Laburnum Road to check the fields which held a few American Wigeon and Mallard. A party of Bushtit kept us entertained before we headed back up Claymore Road to check the Little Qualicum fish hatchery. An hour of pouring rain soaked us to the bone before we headed back to the warmth of the car. The birding around the hatchery was fairly dull though we had a good count of Bald Eagles. Lori spotted an American Dipper, our target bird, in the spawning channels which we were all delighted about.

Mike Ashbee, Jon Carter and Rich Mooney
            As there was a high tide at 09:00 a.m. we decided to spend some time looking around some quiet streets and checking backyard bird feeders. The rain kept coming and we continued trying for anything! We added species here and there but it became obvious we would have to fight for each new species. After taking care of business in suburbia we headed down to the water and began scanning for loons, grebes, sea-ducks and gulls. Hope for a break in the weather seemed fruitless so we decided to walk to the mouth of the Little Qualicum River, resigned to the fact we would have to do our big count of gulls in the pouring rain.
            On arrival, we had two groups of gulls to sort through, plus, the continual comings and goings of preening birds in the fresh water of the river mouth. More species were added in small numbers and after an hour we made our way back to the car. We checked a few more access points before doing another sea-watch at the Brant viewing tower in Qualicum Beach where Black-bellied Plover and a single Western Grebe were added. With time slipping away, we checked a few more local areas with little success. Mike Ashbee knew of a small trail off Garrett Road, which turned up two much-appreciated species: Downy and Hairy Woodpecker! We threw the towel in on our CBC count day at 4:15 p.m. after using it to dry off!
            Though the elements were not on our side, we did have lots of fun and it was great to have Mike Ashbee and Jon Carter on board; both great birders and fun people to be around. Species count: 65. Last year I was stuck in a snow bank for five hours adding 19 species for the day! This year we got soaked to the bone. What will next year have in store for us?

CBC 2009 - Mike, Jon, Lori and Rich