You couldn’t ask for a nicer day in late December for a CBC. The temperature, in the teens when we started, soon rose above freezing, which is important when you consider much of the route is covered going 5MPH on back roads with both windows wide open, my fellow-compiler S. driving and watching and me doing my best hound-dog impersonation with my head hanging out the window, ears pricked for every chirp.
I had no idea there were so many narrow barely-plowed roads in what is not the most rural part of the county, but the 4wheel drive handled it all calmly, even when we had to get off the road quickly to avoid a town plow. S. had scouted through the area the day before, locating likely spots like open water (rare) and full bird feeders (less common than you would think. Why do people hang feeders and not supply them?)
We knew we wouldn’t have large numbers of species — this time of year, only the teams along the river get really high numbers — but we listened, and we watched, and we explained what we were doing to any number of people. For some reason, homeowners get a little antsy when you stare into their yards with binoculars…
We had a lot of ground to cover and not a lot of time. We still were able to stop and just enjoy watching birds a few times. A small flock of tree sparrows hunted through weed-tops along a barely open stream and the sun highlighted their rusty caps. Bluebirds and cardinals provided welcome color, and two common Redpolls were first-of-season birds for me.
After six hours and 80 miles, we had covered most of the roads in our section and S. had to leave. I tried to cover the last few streets alone, but trying to drive/listen/write/notice other cars proved too difficult. By then I think I had sprained my attention or something. I’d hear a bird and it wouldn’t even register. So it was home to neaten up my tally sheet into something presentable, then off to the after-count gathering to share our results. I’ll post about them when they’ve been compiled. I can’t wait to do this again next year!
So here’s my list, species and how many of each:*
Wild Turkey 12, Red-tailed Hawk 4, Rock Pigeon 16, Mourning Dove 32, Red-bellied Woodpecker 1, Downy Woodpecker 14, Hairy Woodpecker 7, Northern Flicker 1, Pileated Woodpecker 1, Blue Jay 88, American Crow 77, Black-capped Chickadee 106, Tufted Titmouse 10, White-breasted Nuthatch 13, Brown Creeper 1, Eastern Bluebird 5, American Robin 4, European Starling 76, Tree Sparrow 11, Song Sparrow 3, Dark-eyed Junco 48, Northern Cardinal 9, House Finch 14, Common Redpoll 2, American Goldfinch 5, House Sparrow 34.
26 species, 1 new to this list, 594 individuals.
*also 7 Helmeted Guineafowl and a few roosters.