Christmas Bird Count 2011 – final report
I know it’s well past christmas but let’s not forget how much fun we had on the Christmas Bird Count this past December! Plus, we had 4 new species!
Following is the final report that was submitted to National Audubon for inclusion in the nation-wide data:
The Fifteenth Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count Finds Four New Species!
by Joe Coleman
Many of the 126 participants on 20 teams thought high winds put a damper on the 15th Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on December 28, and feared there were both fewer species and fewer individual birds. Happily, this was not the case; the final tally revealed higher numbers than average with 94 species and 28,148 individual birds counted.
Most exciting was four species of birds not previously reported on the count were sighted. Russ Taylor and his team found a Greater White-Fronted Goose on a private pond just north of Leesburg; Christine Perdue and Bob Blakney found a Golden Eagle flying over Camp Highroad near Philomont; Steve Makranczy and Russ Taylor found a Peregrine Falcon flying over the Potomac River into Maryland near White’s Ferry; and Bob Abrams found a Snow Bunting at the county landfill. The first two were photographed, in addition to a Loggerhead Shrike at the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project where a Virginia Rail was also found.
Other highlights included a displaying American Woodcock early in the morning near Beaverdam Reservoir, 36 American Pipits in muddy fields along Tail Race Road, a flock of 62 Wild Turkeys at the south cell of the Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project, five Rusty Blackbirds north of Aldie, and 20 Horned Larks at the county landfill. Some birds, as they have been all season, were much rarer than usual such as a single Red-Breasted Nuthatch. There were also low numbers of Red-headed Woodpeckers, probably because of the lack of mast in the fall.
Not surprisingly, few owls were found, as it was very difficult to hear owls over the wind. Teams found only one Great Horned Owl and one Eastern Screech Owl, a major decrease from previous years. One sector team, which has found as many as a half dozen Barred Owls on previous counts, thought itself lucky to find just one this year. However, good numbers of other raptors were seen. In addition to the Golden Eagle and the Peregrine Falcon mentioned above, two different Merlins were seen, one hunting a farm near Waterford and the other perched on a tree right below the National Cemetery at Ball’s Bluff. Also, healthy numbers of Bald Eagles and Red-Tailed Hawks were observed, and both local accipiter species — Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks — were counted. While Common Raven numbers were a bit lower than normal, it was nice to find a pair at an open silo, which may be a nesting site as they have been observed perching there year-round for at least the past two years.
As often happens on a bird count, one of the nicest sightings of the day was non-avian: four River Otters playing in a large private pond near Lincoln, the same location they were seen during the May 2011 International Migratory Bird Day count.
At the end of the day, wind-burned counters gathered at the Tally Rally at Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg. Here we warmed up, enjoyed a delicious meal and shared bird stories.
The 126 participants, including nine young people and four feeder watchers, were the most people to ever participate in our local count. Even better, it was wonderful to know that the Central Loudoun Bird Count was just one of 2,000 taking place across the country! Without the help of our counters and especially the sector and subsector leaders, we would not have been nearly as successful. We also appreciate all the private and public landowners who gave us permission to visit their properties to survey the birds there. The access to these properties makes an incredible difference in the numbers and diversity of what is found.
To compare this year’s local count to previous years, check out https://loudounwildlife.org/CBC.htm. To compare the Central Loudoun CBC to other counts around the country, check out www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/.
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy says Thank You to all for making the 2011 CBC so much fun and a huge success!