Loudoun Christmas Bird Count had Rare Sightings
The results from our Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count, conducted last Sunday, are still being tallied but here’s a preliminary report from Joe Coleman who organizes this amazing event for us each year:
The Twelfth Annual Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count
The 12th annual Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, December 28. While the number of participants, 110, was much higher than ever, the number of bird species seen, about 95 including the count week, was average.
While all the reports aren’t in yet, there were some especially nice count week birds on Saturday including a GLAUCOUS GULL that Bob Abrams found at the county landfill and a dozen REDHEADS at Beaverdam Reservoir. A SHORT-EARED OWL was hunting at dusk at Mountain View Elementary School near Purcellville.
The Glaucous Gull is especially rare as they do not normally come this far south and only one or two are reported annually in Virginia. A photo of this rare bird sighting is provided here, thanks to Bob Abrams.
During the count, itself, there were surprisingly few waterfowl and not many blackbirds, and this always impacts the overall count numbers
On the day of the count a MERLIN was found between Aldie and Philomont, a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was on private land off of rte 15 a little south of the Goose Creek, and HORNED LARKS were seen in several sectors. A surprising first for the count because it hasn’t been found before were DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS which were found in two different sectors. Also unusual were the high numbers of PINE SISKINS. Most years we don’t find any Pine Siskins; this year there are a tremendous number of them around.
In spite of the extensive coverage of the circle the unseasonably warm weather is probably one of the more important reasons for the average nature of the count. As many of us observe at our feeders, birds are both more active and visible when it is colder.
Thanks to all the birders for making the count another great success and to Rhonda Chocha and her team for coordinating the Tally Rally. And a special thanks to the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and to the Bird Feeder in Reston for underwriting the Tally Rally.