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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


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