Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Looking Back on the Stratford Area CBC

Last Monday I took part in my first Christmas Bird Count in the Stratford area.  I had never been part of a count before and so did not know exactly what to expect.  However I was hoping to meet some other local birders and hopefully see some species of interest.

The count was divided into seven zones and I met my fellow group members in a parking lot along the Avon River by 8:30.  We started our morning with a walk along the river where we picked up the usual geese, mallards and ring billed gulls.
The usual residents

  Things were looking up as we came across the long staying ring-necked duck.  I made reference to this bird in my previous post and it was great to add it to the count, definitely not a normal CBC bird.

Not far from the river, we caught a glimpse of a large bird circling over the trees, turkey vulture.  We would come across another large bunch later in the day bringing our count total to 14 vultures.  Based on past records, this is a first time they have been seen on the count.  Likely the mild weather has been a factor.

Surprisingly the common rock pigeon had eluded us all this while and we spent some time driving before picking up a flock.  That species seems to be all over when we aren't counting them.

We then walked through a residental area along the edge of Stratford and added most of the expected species at feeders along the way.

At noon, we stopped for a quick lunch at Tim Horton's and met the fourth member of our group.  Steve had been doing a solo walk along a rural section of the Avon.  We added his sightings to our list and then the group of us headed off for a drive along the rural sideroads of our zone.

We didn't pick up a lot of raptor variety, but managed northern harrier, and four rough-legged hawks.

Our last sighting of the day was horned lark and we headed back into town to regroup and put together our sightings.

Aside from our group's turkey vultures and ring-necked ducks, there were several other species of interest as well.  Notable gulls included a greater black-backed in St. Marys as well as two iceland and a thayers.   Cackling geese were also picked out at one location.

As in any count, we had some species that were higher than expected and some that were lower or not seen at all.   In general raptor numbers were lower, particularly red-tailed and coopers hawks.  No sharp-shinned this year.  No one managed to pick up any owls although a group had been out early in the morning trying.   However three great horned seen a day earlier managed to make count week.

Overall I really enjoyed my first CBC and hope to take part again next year.


  1. I remember my very first CBC and enjoyed finding birds. I actually found some decent birds, not knowing HOW decent!

  2. Sounds interesting. Did you have a rarity of some sort?

  3. Nice write-up -- I have to get my CBC post finished! How many species did you see?

  4. Thanks. It really was an enjoyable day with 29 species found just in my group and I think it was 49 overall. Definitely less than last year when the record shows 61, highest in 10 years.

    I look forward to reading your CBC post. I know what it's like with so many things to post about and so little time to post them.