Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2016 Stratford CBC

Yesterday was the day of the Stratford area Christmas bird count.  This was my second year participating and it was an enjoyable day out.  Overall, bird numbers and variety of species was lower than has been reported in the past.  For example, 2554 Canada Geese were counted last year compared to 9 this year.  American robin, which had been hanging on in the area in massive numbers this December, also seemed to have mainly moved on.  Back in early December there were over 2000 counted streaming over Wildwood lake within a couple days.  Undoubtedly many more went unnoticed.

However it was still a great day to be out and to connect with other naturalists. 

I was assigned to a group in the Harmony region and it was our job to check out numerous sideroads and trails south of the city.  The wind made it feel colder than it was, but fortunately we did not have deep drifts of snow to wade through.  The rain and mild temeratures on Monday took care of that. 

Our first birds of the day were American crows.  We have quite a few that winter in this area, but are not as fortunate to have the numbers as the folks down towards Chatham-Kent :)

We stopped at many feeders along the way where we picked up the expected feeder birds, likely drawn to these food sources due to the poor weather conditions.

A common winter sign around here is seeing groups of wild turkeys gathered together out in the fields and this year was no exception.

Raptors put on a decent showing this year, but like many of our numbers were still lower than they have been previously.  Red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, cooper's hawks and northern harriers were all observed.

 One of our highlights was coming across a couple turkey vultures circling overhead.  They were observed last year as well for the first time on the Stratford count.  They must have figured if that could winter here last year, then they could this year too. 

Our day wrapped up around 4:00 and we met up for a potluck and a gathering together of the numbers.  The species total this year was 43, down from last year's 48.  Despite the weather and low bird numbers, it was a great day to be out and exploring the Stratford area.