Well, it’s over. Another year of Christmas Bird Counts, and what a finish! Today my brother and I had 65 species of birds within our counting areas on the Fisherville CBC. We think this is probably a new record for us.
The morning started off well with some pre-dawn owling. We were able to hear 1 GREAT HORNED OWL and 4 EASTERN SCREECH OWLS. An added bonus was a single SHORT-EARED OWL sitting right out in the open in the morning sun. Sadly, our 4th owl species of the day was a roadkill in the form of a LONG-EARED OWL. I checked to make sure that it wasn’t banded, but it was too badly mangled to try salvaging for a museum.
Photo: Short-eared Owl on the Fisherville CBC. What a beauty!
Next stop was the lakeshore. Despite a bit of a wind (albeit much calmer than the crazy winds from yesterday) the lake was still mostly open, with only a little bit of ice fringing the lakeshore. Highlights from the lakeshore today included 3 species of swan (TUNDRA, MUTE, TRUMPETER (with a wing-tag)), 3 SNOW GEESE (1 blue phase, 2 white phase), 1 CACKLING GOOSE, 3 AMERICAN COOTS, 1 RUDDY DUCK, 2 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 4 CANVASBACK and 1 AMERICAN WIGEON (all of these birds are very uncommon for our counting area). Another great find was 5 AMERICAN PIPITS feeding along the shoreline, as well as 1 SAVANNAH SPARROW.
It was also very nice to have lots of land birds to look at. There seemed to be good numbers of sparrows this year, with lot’s of roadside feeding frenzies. Woodland birds were a bit scarce, but still good diversity. Highlights included 3 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, 4 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS, 1 EASTERN TUFTED TITMOUSE, 1 HERMIT THRUSH (Adam only), 2 NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS, and 3 NORTHERN SHRIKES.
Our final highlight of the day was seen out of the count circle on the way home. We had great looks at 3 EASTERN MEADOWLARKS feeding along the roadside. It’s always nice to see them in the winter.
Well, now that I am free of birding duties in the county, it is time to start planning my east coast sojourn. Hmmm….time to check the bird alerts.