Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Last Count

Saturday (December 30) was the day for the Belleville Christmas Bird Count (CBC). What a difference from the Presqu'ile count of two weeks before. Dark, cold, and early I set out from Prince Edward County headed for the IGA on Highway 62 north of Belleville to meet my this-time partner Mel. The snow started as I reach Belleville, and was rather heavy by the time I reached the meeting place. But no matter, off we went.

Our area adjoins the area of the Belleville count I've worked before, but lacks the good trails, so we spent most of our time in the car, watching for likely spots, jumping out, jumping back in. Not much to see during the snow (well, there were the Canada Geese and even a few ducks, as well as the usual in built up areas, starlings and house sparrows)--but by lunchtime the weather cleared and it started to warm up.

Our area was partly rural, and partly small town, running along the west side of the Moira River. The bit of snow wasn't enough to bring birds to the feeders, so we didn't see a lot of the usual suspects, though we did find a nice collection of birds at the foot of a small trail leading up into some bush and fields, including a singing house finch. The big story of the day though was the raptors: Red-tailed Hawk 4; hawk species (probably a Cooper's) 1; Kestrel 1. The Kestrel was the best of all. It flew across the road in front of us, carrying a mouse or vole, and settled in a tree. Mel has a scope, and we set it up and had an excellent time watching this beautiful bird enjoying its lunch.

In the end we came up with 20 species. Not bad given the tough conditions in the first part of the day, and the fact that we were driving so much of the time. There are still a few days left in the CBC period (until January 5). Check out the Audubon CBC page. If you're in North America, there may be a count still to be done near you. If there isn't, and especially if you've never counted birds before but would like to start, February is the time of the Great Backyard Bird Count.


Anonymous said...

I do bird counts all the time...today I spent hours searching for a Black-backed woodpecker...found signs of it, but no luch yet...going back tomarrow I hope.

Pamela Martin said...

Jimmy, thanks for dropping by. I saw a black-backed woodpecker once, startled by it so far south I didn't appreciate it like I should've. I checked out your site--great photo of the tufted titmouse--that's a bird I'd really like to see!

Deb said...

I did my first Christmas bird count this year and had an absolutely wonderful time. Highlights for me were seeing a gray jay in the town near where I live, and a northern harrier and light-morph rough-legged hawk at the same time. Another group saw an American three-toed woodpecker, a first for around here.

I liked Jimmy's tufted titmouse photo too!

Pamela Martin said...

Hi Deb: Glad you had a good time. I like it because it's intense, but not overly so--a first, small taste of marathon birding, I think. Maybe one year I'll feel ready for a Big Day, which I'm guessing is much more intense--or maybe a Big Sit.

A rough-legged hawk and harrier together! Very nice.