This year we had great weather with no rain or snow, the temperature early in the day was a little nippy but by mid-day had warmed up nicely.
We had 118 species seen with some rare sightings. This is our highest species total since 2007. The Northern Mockingbird obliged by staying around for more than a year, one wonders if will last out to next year’s count. A Bohemian Waxwing was found in a flock of its smaller cousins, the Cedar Waxwings, along Maple Bay Road in a Holly farm, this is the second year running for us to find this rare species for Vancouver Island. A flock of 21 Common Redpolls delighted the group counting in Cowichan Bay. It appears that this species has made a major influx this winter onto Vancouver Island with sightings at many locations.
Our overall count found 22,010 birds, which was slightly up from last year but sadly still well below our average.
We had around 35 people out counting and another 10 watching their feeders. It appears that the flu bug knocked our participants down this year as it ravaged the lower island.
The whole of Somenos Marsh was still frozen dragging the duck number down, surprisingly Quamichan Lake stayed open but lacked large numbers of ducks with not many Ruddy Ducks this year, this following on from getting skunked last year with this lovely little diving duck. Our count had established itself as the highest count in Canada for Ruddies but now we are an also ran.
Below are just some of the highlights by groups of birds.
Most dabbling duck numbers were down with not many Green-winged Teal or Northern Pintail, we did manage to find 2 Eurasian Wigeon among the ever diminishing American Wigeon. Bufflehead numbers crashed with less than half our normal count. Lesser Scaup numbers were way down with the Sewage lagoons have the lion’s share. We did well for loons although their numbers remain low from many years ago.
Hawks & Eagles
This year saw a record number of Coopers Hawks with 20 recorded. Eagles were average and we only had 2 Northern Harriers which is low, they seemed to have vacated our area big time this year, we need more vermin. 1 American Kestrel was surprising as the swan and goose people seem to find them every week. Other Falcons did well with 5 each of Merlin and Peregrine.
This was a big disappointment with just 4 Killdeer and 9 Black Turnstones. On the bright side we had 16 Wilson’s Snipe with one lucky group finding a nice flock.
Gone are the days of major numbers found on our count, Mew Gull number went up nicely and a single California Gull was found and the same group found a 1st winter Glaucous Gull. 82 Bonaparte’s Gulls were found between us and Saltspring and 3 Ring-billed Gulls made up the numbers.
Not bad for owls with 8 found, a Barn Owl was nice and so was a Short-eared Owl
Hummingbirds and Woodpeckers
Anna’s Hummingbirds went up from last year and the woodpeckers were around the same although still low from past years with one counter finding it hard to find a Northern Flicker for his list
Shrikes and Corvids
Northern Shrikes was a record with 9 found and Common Ravens were right on average. Northwestern Crows on the other hand dropped drastically, not sure what caused this but the large late afternoon flocks of yesteryear are no more.
Chickadees, Wrens and Kinglets
This is where our numbers tumbled with low counts across the board for all species. Brown Creepers being absent off many lists
Thrushes and Starlings
Robins, Varied Thrushes and Starlings were all in low numbers, Varied Thrush go up and down each count, this is two years running of low numbers. One Hermit Thrush was had.
Here the numbers went up a bit with reasonably good counts of most species and a Swamp Sparrow and 2 Lincoln’s were a nice addition. It is strange the way the Lincoln’s Sparrows which were so abundant just before Christmas appeared to have left.
Red-winged Blackbirds continue to drop in our area although the Brewers are stable and came through with a good average count. We did have a Western Meadowlark for the count week and I know for certain they were out there on count day, must try to encourage the counters to paddle out in those wet fields.
Most finches were right on average although Pine Siskins took a major hit with this little finch being so irruptive some years and absent in others. The Common Redpolls were a great find and added nicely to our species count.
Lastly House Sparrows
Their numbers continue low from three to four years ago when we had record numbers, maybe the record Coopers Hawks have played a part in this.
Overall a great count with happy faces all around at the roundup where we were spoilt rotten by the ladies with lots of food and hot drinks, big thanks to all for their help and we will hopefully see you all again next year.
A copy of data sheet of the bird count is avialble on requesr from firstname.lastname@example.org as an Excel or pdf file.