2010 Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count Results
by Joe Coleman
The 106 people participating in the 14th Central Loudoun CBC, sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC), found 92 species and 26,497 individuals on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Only once in the 14 years of the count have more people participated in the count and the 15 participants under 19 is by the far the largest number of young people who have ever joined us on the count.
For those of us owling, the day started with disappointment as fewer owls and no unusual or uncommon species were found compared to the past few years. In terms of individuals this pattern continued into the day as only 133.6 individuals were found per party hour. However, the number of species observed, 93 including a count week Pine Siskin, is better than average, and those 93 included some very exciting species. One of the reasons the individuals per party hour count was so low was the small number of European Starlings; the 1,832 seen was far below the count average of 6,500.
The highlights of the count include included two different Loggerhead Shrikes, a state threatened species. One, found by Cliff Fairweather and his team, was north of Purcellville and the other, found by Gerry Hawkins and Joe Coleman, was on private property along the Goose Creek close to Mountville. The count also had two firsts, a Lesser Black-Backed Gull, found at the county landfill by Bob Abrams, and a Pine Warbler, found by Kevin McKee, Paul Miller, and David Van Tassel. Other great finds were a blue morph Snow Goose, seen and photographed by Bruce Hill near the Beaverdam Reservoir; a Virginia Rail surprised the team headed by Gerco Hoogeweg and Donna Quinn at the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project; and a Black-Capped Chickadee, only the second time this species has been found on the count. It was visiting a feeder at Bob and Ryan Jordan’s in Philomont along with a lot of Carolina Chickadees and gave that team an excellent opportunity to compare the two different species.
It was also nice to see that a couple of the sectors had seven-woodpecker days and, considering that almost every patch of still, and in many cases, flowing water was frozen, there was a surprisingly decent number of waterfowl species, including, for this count, a record number of Mallards and Hooded Mergansers. Also found were six Common Goldeneye and a Redhead, both of which have been found on only four of our counts. The waterfowl were found in the few areas where water was open, such as the Potomac River and a small part of Beaverdam Reservoir. My team found the Goose Creek more frozen than it has ever been on any of our previous Christmas Bird Counts.
Russ Taylor, who was assisting Steve Makranczy north of Leesburg and near the Potomac River, was excited to find seven Brown Creepers all in the same area. American Pipits, Horned Larks, and a wide variety of sparrows including Chipping, Field, American Tree, Savannah, Fox, Swamp, and White-Crowned were also found in a wide variety of locations. While none of the teams found many blackbirds, and not a single Brown-headed Cowbird, the team headed by Gerco Hoogeweg and Donna Quinn found a small flock of Eastern Meadowlarks and Carole Miller and Linda Millington found a small flock of Rusty Blackbirds, a species whose numbers have dropped dramatically in the past decade. The more interesting finches included Purple Finch and count-week Pine Siskins.
Always interesting are the birds that are seen in higher numbers than any previous years. This year that included Wild Turkeys (43), Red-shouldered Hawks (125), and American Crows (1,178).
Afterwards about half the participants met at the Rust Nature Sanctuary for the Tally Rally to share tales of their day and to find out what count’s highlights were. All of us appreciated the efforts of Helen Van Ryzin, Karen Coleman, Ellie Daley, Rockie Fera, Sheila Ferguson, Bruce McGranahan, and Karen Strick, for setting up and working with Mama Lucci’s, as well as all the others who helped clean up after a long day in the field, ensuring that the Tally Rally would be a success.
The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is thankful to all the counters, and especially the sector and subsector leaders, for helping with this count, one of over 2,000 different Christmas Bird Counts, part of the longest and largest citizen-science effort in the world. 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 is found!
You can learn more about the Central Loudoun Christmas Bird count on our Christmas Bird Count page.
And to all of the many counters Thank You!