Christmas Bird Count 2007

pine siskin and house finch

(From Marcia’s journal)

December 15, 2007
22 degrees and a rosy-fingered dawn as I headed outside. Two common ravens flew above Sapsucker Ridge. Surely they were a sign of great sightings to come. Our resident red-bellied woodpecker drum-rolled as I set out. The sun was engulfed in clouds, but occasionally a shaft of sunlight appeared.

The crunching of the icy snow beneath my feet made it almost impossible to hear any birds as I walked up First Field. Still, I detected a cardinal-like chip and crunched over to the woods. After a few quiet moments, three female cardinals flew into a grapevine and ate. A couple black-capped chickadees and tufted titmice also appeared. And on Sapsucker Ridge, a Carolina wren sang.

Then I heard nothing until I rounded the first bend on the Far Field Road and five robins flew overhead calling. One landed briefly so I had a good look at it through my binoculars.

Sitting on Coyote Bench, I soaked in the sunshine and silence, but no birds called or appeared.

I went on to a silent Far Field. Only at the Second Thicket did I pick up cardinals, a crow, ruffed grouse and blue jay. But I heard the red-tail call that I heard there yesterday and as I descended the thicket an immature red-tail flew off from a tree. I also saw a few white-throated sparrows and dark-eyed juncos.

I decided to push on to the hunting lodge on a neighboring property. It was a lovely hike, but except for a few chickadees, nothing stirred even in the hedgerows. The weather held, but still the birds were scarce. Until I reached the Second Thicket area again, I saw no birds. Then I pished up more white-throated sparrows, a winter wren, a singing Carolina wren and an American tree sparrow.

On my way back home along Sapsucker Ridge Trail, I heard one hairy woodpecker and spotted the female hairy I had seen the previous day on the same tree. Altogether, I walked six miles to record 17 species, eight of which also appeared at our feeders. Back at the house, Dave had set up his camera and tripod at the kitchen window to photograph birds while baking bread and showed me a couple shots he had taken of a pine siskin.

Steve was on the cellphone down on Waterthrush Bench in the hollow, as frustrated as I had been by the lack of birds in the sheltered, south-facing thickets of Sapsucker Ridge. Still, he had found a yellow-bellied sapsucker. And he persisted through most of the afternoon, adding more species and numbers.

I needed to bake a blueberry crumb pie after lunch for the Bird Count supper at the Hoyers’, so I turned on the Metropolitan Opera and listened to Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet in between baking and keeping a stake-out on the feeders all afternoon, adding more numbers to most of the feeder birds, and finally seeing a song sparrow there near dusk. Once I spotted a large bird on a fallen tree in the flat area that turned out to be a common flicker. Still, I didn’t add one species to Steve’s list. Altogether, I had 22 species, Dave’s siskin made 23, and Steve added 10 more species — 33 in all.

Later, when we returned from the Bird Count supper, we found a message on our answering machine from Troy Scott, who reported counting 26 wild turkeys at the base of the mountain.

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT LIST

1. Red-tailed hawk — 2

2. Sharp-shinned hawk — 1

3. Canada goose — 45

4. Mallard — 10

5. Red-bellied woodpecker — 8

6. Common flicker — 3

7. Hairy woodpecker — 2

8. Downy woodpecker — 7

9. Yellow-bellied sapsucker — 1

10. Blue jay — 5

11. American crow — 8

12. Common raven — 3

13. Black-capped chickadee — 30

14. Tufted titmouse — 13

15. White-breasted nuthatch — 11

16. Brown creeper — 2

17. Golden-crowned kinglet — 6

18. Northern cardinal — 12

19. American goldfinch — 15

20. Pine siskin — 1

21. Ruffed grouse — 8

22. White-throated sparrow — 30

23. American tree sparrow — 11

24. Dark-eyed junco — 82

25. Song sparrow — 2

26. American robin — 54

27. House finch — 24

28. European starling — 162

29. Carolina wren — 7

30. Winter wren — 2

31. Rock dove — 5

32. Northern harrier — 1

33. Mourning dove — 4

34. Wild turkey — 26

© 2007 Marcia Bonta

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Posted on December 19, 2007, in birds, Christmas Bird Count. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Wow. A lot of work for that number of species. We also missed pileated, which I gather from Dave you get all the time normally, but at the compilation in the evening we discovered that they were all in the canyon to our east…

  2. No one had a pileated in our count circle. Altogether, our group had 65 species, one species short of our alltime record of 66 species. Here on the mountain, 34 was actually one of our better counts, although a couple times we’ve cracked 40+.

    Work, but fun work, and an excuse to be out as long as we want.

  3. We had 144 species which is at the high end for us with a few weird (and in one case, ring-necked pheasant, unprecedented) misses.

    There’s a new count circle in Sonoma county they want us to come along to on Friday 28th: I’m not sure I’m willing to drive that far, or that early. We’ll see.

  4. Ah, to be in California or Texas or–wait a minute–we once did a CBC in Honduras. What a joy that was.

  1. Pingback: Via Negativa » Blog Archive » For the birds

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