Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Great Backyard Bird Count 2016 Edition

After a 4 year hiatus, I was able to participate more fully in this year's Great Backyard Bird Count which I touched on in a couple of previous posts and which wrapped up this past Monday.  Fortunately this year I was off for most of it, hitting six locations in over the course of the 4 days.  The home front, MacDonald Island, The Snye, Birchwood Trail, the river valley and even Suncor base plant proved to be some pretty good spots.  I worked the last day but was able to do a count throughout the day on my down time.  Suncor isn't exactly a place where you'll get good variety but it is good for getting impressive numbers of ravens if you're keen on ratcheting up your numbers.

I find the event quite useful for two main reasons, aside from the obvious benefit of getting out into the great outdoors for a bit.  It allows me to get a sense of what species in our area people are seeing and also gives me ideas of where to explore in other parts of both Alberta and British Columbia.  I ended up seeing 12 species which was slightly better than what I hoped.  I was pretty confident starting out that I would see around 10 without too much effort which is about par for me for this time of year.    There were 26 species reported for Fort McMurray and area so I almost reached the halfway point.  Most of the ones I didn't see were species of owls ptarmigan and grouse which I'd have a better chance of seeing outside city limits.

I probably could have hit 15 species but no gray jays,  hairy woodpeckers, or northern flickers crossed my path.  Still, I won't complain as I did spot boreal chickadees and a couple three-toed woodpeckers which are rather hit and miss on my year lists.    Evening grosbeaks have also been hit or miss.  I recorded a sighting of one single individual a few days prior to the count but none decided to grace my front yard trees during the weekend.  We also have white-winged crossbills and red-breasted nut-hatches which I still haven't seen yet inspire of living here almost 6 years.  But then again, if I saw everything there was to see right away, there would be no challenge.

Here, then, is the list of what I was able to see.  At the risk of indulging in self-aggrandizement, I did record the second highest number of species reported in the Fort McMurray area.

- Common Raven
- Black-capped Chickadee
- Pine Grosbeak
- Black-billed Magpie
- Boreal Chickadee
- Bohemian Waxwing
- Common Redpoll
- Hoary Redpoll
- American Three-toed Woodpecker
- House Sparrow
- Blue Jay
- Rock Pigeon

No comments: