Yesterday was the final event in my lineup of the 2011/2012 Christmas Bird Count season. It was the Linwood count, which you can view a map of the circle here. I started the Linwood count in 2004 mostly because I was tired of hearing about people driving to Amherst Island to see Rough-legged Hawks when I knew we had the best place to see them just north of Waterloo. After five counts (2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) I can safely say I was right with the Linwood CBC finishing in the top five counts for Rough-legs every year (I think there was one year it was sixth but I can't figure out how to check that on the Audubon site). This year I passed on the compiling duties to my brother, Ken and I am happy to say the count's in good hands! You can read Ken's post about the overall count results on his blog.
The day was pretty crappy weather-wise for the but it didn't matter as we still did well. Some of our highlights included 2 Common Ravens, 4 White-winged Crossbills, and 3 Bald Eagles below Conestogo Dam, a Merlin in Glen Allen (first count record; Ken's got a picture up on his blog here), 5 Great Black-backed Gulls in Glen Allen (second count record), and 28 Rough-legged Hawks in our area. My highlight of the day came late in the morning when we were all (my Dad, Ken, and our friends John and Tony, and I) standing on the bridge in Glen Allen when I heard a distressed Northern Cardinal. Just after a young Northern Shrike popped up. A couple minutes later I heard the same sound and looked over to see a Cardinal flying across a yard with the shrike in close pursuit, with someone's cat a few feet behind! Another couple seconds later and the shrike nailed the cardinal, only to have the cat jump in and scoop up the shrike's hard-won meal. Anyways, here's a copy of our ebird checklist from our area for the day.
The other highlight of the count for me was the Red-shouldered Hawk. This bird has been coming back to winter along the Conestogo River in Hawkesville since the winter of 2003/2004. When we first saw it in December, 2003 it was already an adult so it is at the youngest born in 2002, coming up on its 10th birthday. Here's a shot from a sunnier day of the returning bird taken on February 13, 2005.