The results are in! Here’s our report from Joe:
The 13th Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, took place on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009.
I want to thank all the counters, for helping with this count, one of about 2,000 different Christmas Bird Counts, part of the longest and largest citizen-science effort in the world. I especially want to thank the sector and subsector leaders for your help as without you these counts would not be possible. We also appreciate all the private and public landowners who give us permission to visit their properties to survey the birds there – those permissions make an incredible difference in the numbers and diversity of what we find!
For those of us owling, the day started with promise under clear skies, a nearly full moon, and temperatures in the mid-30’s at 4 am. Unfortunately that quickly changed as the temperature dropped to 25 at 7 am accompanied by a freezing fog. Roads that had been simply wet an hour before were dangerously slick. And while the fog was beautiful, it was also cold. While the temperature ultimately warmed up to the low 50’s later in the day, making it a great day to be outside, most ponds remained totally frozen.
The highlights of the count included
– a Loggerhead Shrike found by Gerco Hoogeweg’s team
– a single Long-eared Owl found by Bob Abrams, and four Barn Owls, the most we’ve found since our very first year
– 2 Gray Catbirds
– 3 Brown Thrashers, a high count
– 5 Red-breasted Nuthatches in two different old pine plantations
– 38 Hermit Thrushes, a high count
– the raptors included 30 Bald Eagles, our second highest count, and 18 Cooper’s Hawks, our highest count
– interesting sparrows included 15 Trees (low), 29 White-crowned (low), and 7 Chipping (a high count)
– a single Pine Siskin and 6 Purple Finches, both way down from last year, an irruption year.
Two teams had seven woodpecker-days with one team finding all seven woodpecker species in 40 minutes on the same farm and then finding all seven woodpecker species again later in the day. A total of 20 Red-headed Woodpeckers, a high for this count, were found throughout the county.
With most of the count’s ponds frozen and the streams and Potomac in flood, it was hard to find a lot of waterfowl.
To make it more challenging several of the larger bodies of water, which do not totally freeze, were totally fogged in when visited early in the morning. Nonetheless the team led by Dori Rhodes did see a flock of Snow Geese flying overhead while Gerco Hoogeweg’s team located two Red-breasted Mergansers, surprisingly the first found on this count.
Afterwards about half the participants met at the Red, Hot, & Blue for the Tally Rally, coordinated by Mike Friedman, to share tales of their day. They not only ate a lot of tasty meat choices but vegetarian fare as well.
We hope you will join us on one of our future bird walks, or even better, one of our counts or help with the Loudoun County Bird Atlas.
To find out about our upcoming events or to see a comparison of this year’s count to previous years check out our Christmas Bird Count page. At the bottom of that page we have reports from past years as well as a summary of our data since we began the count 13 years ago. To compare the Central Loudoun CBC to others check out www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/.
Joe Coleman, Count Compiler
540-554-2542 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks to Constance Chatfield Taylor and Peter Kaestner for sending over photos from their birding adventures! Additional photos can be seen on our Loudoun Wildlife Facebook page.