Wednesday, 19 December 2012

'Tis the season

I'm just going to ignore the fact that it has been a while and jump right into this post. As you all know we are now well into Christmas Bird Count season and we've had the big weekend of counts done and starting to post the results.  So far there are lots of pretty apparent trends out there in southern Ontario: lots of lingering waterfowl, some lingering Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Warblers, lots of Barred Owls south of normal, and pretty much no Robins.  Most of the winter finches, with the exception of redpolls, appear to have motored right on through Ontario.

As usual I was out for two counts this past weekend and wasn't disappointed.  Saturday's count was the Kitchener CBC.  For this count we cover the area west of Erbsville which has a lot of nice forest.  What it doesn't have is any water to speak of so unlike some other areas we didn't see too much of interest this year.  Our best bird was probably the Swamp Sparrow in the wetland behind the old Erbsville Outdoor Education Centre.  Here's our day's list if you're interested.

Despite our rather slow day the Kitchener count was a huge success.  When all was said and done all the groups tallied 74 species on count day (beating the old high of 70!) plus 3 more species for count week.  The highlight of count day was the Cackling Goose (new species for count) that has been present for some time now on the sports fields at Columbia Lake.  You can see my summary of the count here. Here's a picture I took of the Cackling Goose on count day while Ken and I poached in Virgil Martin's territory:

Cackling Goose at Columbia Lake on count day

The Cambridge CBC was a completely different story for us.  Since 1994 we have covered the area between Puslinch Lake and Valens Reservoir - in most years it is tough to get even a Canada Goose or Mallard since our's is one of the few sections without part of the Grand River in it and our species total usually suffers because of that.  However, in warm years when Puslinch and Valens have open water (like in 2001 and 2011) our area kicks some serious ass! In 2001 I think Canvasback and Long-tailed Duck were both new for the count.  In 2011 there weren't any new species but we finished with an incredible 52 species for our area. This year was no exception, even though we didn't break the 50 species mark.  I'm pretty sure both the Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Duck were new species for the count and Red-breasted Merganser, Greater Scaup, and the huge count of Hooded Mergansers were not too shabby either.  To top it off, Erica and I had a Barred Owl in our area on Friday night (count week)! It was a pretty rainy day on Sunday for the Cambridge count so not many pictures taken, but here are a couple:
female/immature Ruddy Duck and American Coot at Puslinch Lake

Coyote eyes up some Mallards!

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