Sunday, December 19, 2010

Parksville Christmas Bird Count 2010

Lori Lynch, Mike Ashbee, Rich Mooney and Jon Carter CBC 2010 - 86 species

Today was my 16th Christmas Bird Count (CBC) since living in British Columbia. My first count was in 2002 when I joined Chris Charlesworth and Chris Siddle on the Vernon CBC. On that day (28th December 2002) we tallied 58 species and this introduction got me hooked on this fun and important annual event.
            Our team today was the same as last year, (Lori Lynch, Mike Ashbee, Jon Carter and myself) though our area had changed. We covered the Parksville area from French Creek Marina to The Englishman River, including suburbia, the town of Parksville and Little Mountain. The weather was more than acceptable, as it was cold but did not rain. It also did not snow, like 2008, where I spent 5 ½ hours stuck in a snow bank, alone, with no toilet paper! Not a pretty sight.
            I digress. Today we started our count at 06:00am, though a calling Killdeer at 05:30am from behind our house was the first bird of the day. We made a few stops around Parksville to listen for owls, which, unfortunately, proved unproductive; traffic and wind definitely affected our chances. Our target bird was Great Horned Owl and despite being in good areas, we failed to hear any. In fact, today, none of the eight teams participating recorded this species.
            The next stop in search of these nocturnal hunters was Little Mountain. Here we got lucky and got our second bird of the day: Northern Pygmy-Owl. Any owl is a good owl but this species always warrants special accolade. 
Northern Pygmy-Owl (Rich Mooney 2007)
Rich, Lori, Jon and Mike - Englishman woods
            In the following hours we ducked and dived our way through the streets of Parksville as well as covering key areas such as The Englishman River Estuary, French Creek, Parksville Park and RV Park. As with any CBC or big day challenge for that matter, there are always highlights, lowlights, stringy what ifs and out and out misses! Last year our big miss was House Sparrow! This year that was not going to happen, no matter what the cost. House Sparrow was bagged as the fifth bird of the day following Belted Kingfisher. What a weird start! A kingfisher before a Song Sparrow? A kingfisher before a towee? It doesn’t seem right but I am not complaining, a kingfisher got me the award for ‘Biggest Miss’ on a Brant Festival Big Day Challenge one year.
Lori, Mike and Jon after bagging a few more birds
            Despite missing a few key birds such as Black Oystercatcher, Long-tailed Duck, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk and Ring-necked Pheasant, we did get some nice birds. The highlights were Pacific Black Brant, Eurasian Wigeon, Peregrine Falcon, Virginia Rail, 4 Wilson’s Snipe, Ring-billed Gull, Ancient Murrelet, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Barred Owl, Anna’s Hummingbird, Northern Shrike, Hutton’s Vireo, Hermit Thrush, American Goldfinch and Evening Grosbeak. We tallied up a total of 86 species (2791 individuals) for the day, covering 104 kilometres from 06:00am to 4:40pm. If I had to pick a bird of the day, it would be White-crowned Sparrow. It took all day to snag one of these lbj’s and the relief was appreciated. I didn’t want to go to the potluck with an empty check mark next to that species!

Reading the results at the 2010 CBC round up
 My sincere thanks again to Lori, Jon and Mike.

1 comment:

  1. It was a great day Rich. Thanks again to you and Lori for putting up with me! Here's to a birdy, and interesting, 2011!