By Bob Reistroffer
On January 1, 2023 the 41st 3CBC was held as part of Audubon's 123rd Christmas Bird Count. Thirteen field observers and one feeder watcher joined and spent a partially
sunny day finding 9,608 birds and 99 species. The temperature ranged from 40° to 46°. This was the cool day with a low fog in the morning and partly cloudy in the
We had a couple of new birds to this count:
- 1 Brandt’s Cormorant,
- 1 American Pipit
Sightings during the count week:
- Common Loon,
- Snow Goose,
- Sharp-shinned Hawk,
- Peregrine Falcon,
- Great Horned Owl,
- Eurasian Wigeon,
- Northern Harrier,
- Short-billed (Mew Gull),
- Pileated Woodpecker,
- Brown-headed Cowbird.
Thank you all for a great job. Hope to see you all next year on Monday, Jan 1, 2024.
*** Change of note for 2024 ***
I would like to say welcome and thank you to Becky Kent who has volunteered to take over the compilation of the 3CBC
By Andrew Emlen
The 24th annual Wahkiakum CBC was held January 5, 2022, after canceling on December 28, 2021 due to weather. 15 volunteers found 57,425 individual birds of 113 species plus 2 additional count week species. Temperatures were from 35-40 degrees F with an east wind of 5-7 mph and a nearly ceaseless light rain. Despite having fewer volunteers (usually there are 20-24), this is close to average in terms of numbers of individual birds and species.
The most abundant species this year was Cackling Goose with 20,367 counted, followed by Greater Scaup at 9002 and European Starling at 2900. These are the usual top three. Cackling Geese represented over 35% of all the individuals counted. Conditions made it difficult to find birds that are dependent on flying insects, but as Mike Patterson noted in his trip report, “It was a good day for ducks”.
New high counts were set for six waterfowl species: Snow Goose 430 (former high 141), Trumpeter Swan 27 (20), American Wigeon 2089 (2037), Mallard 2567 (1688), Green-winged Teal 2344 (2199), and Common Merganser 219 (183). A total of 44,354 ducks, geese and swans represented over 77% of all individual birds counted. Other new high counts were for Dunlin 1220 (1006), Red-shouldered Hawk 12 (8) and Rough-legged Hawk 7 (4). The increase in Red-shouldered Hawks for the Wahkiakum Count mirrors increases across Oregon and Washington.
To see how Dr. Steve Hampton used CBC data to track west coast species that have been expanding their ranges northward with the warming climate, see https://thecottonwoodpost.net/2020/03/09/the-invasion-of-the-pacific-northwest-californias-birds-expand-north-with-warmer-winters
All of the species he examines have shown similar overall trends in the Wahkiakum CBC circle.
Many thanks to all volunteers for counting on a challenging day.
By Bob Reistroffer
On January 1, 2022 the 40th 3CBC was held as part of Audubon's 122nd Christmas Bird Count. Eleven field observers and 5 feeder watchers joined and spent a partially sunny day finding 8,620 birds and 90 species. The temperature ranged from 26° to 36°. This was the cold day with ice and snow on many roads that hampered the coverage of the area.
We had several high counts: 39 Common Raven, 154 Varied Thrush, 1 Lesser Goldfinch, 4 Cooper’s Hawk.
Seen during count week: 2 Canada Jays, 1 Rough-legged Hawk, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Barn Owl, 1 Eurasian Wigeon, 2 Canvasback, 1 Northern Harrier, 1 Iceland Gull
New to the count this year: 1 Lesser Goldfinch.
Thank you all for a great job.
Hope to see you all next year on Tuesday, Jan 1, 2023.
By Robert Sudar, Compiler
The weatherman predicted a significant storm for Southwest Washington on Saturday, December 18th, and he didn’t disappoint. Despite having to again institute a “pandemic approach” to organizing the count, 19 counters spread amongst 8 groups in 8 sectors of the count circle, plus two feeder watchers, braved heavy (as in sideways) rain and 30-40mph winds to collect bird numbers for this year’s Willapa CBC. It was the worst weather that anyone could remember for count day and it certainly had a negative influence on sightings. Willapa Bay was very rough and so the usually flotillas of ducks were mostly absent, as were some other typical birds that prefer the open water. There were fewer sightings, and in some cases no sightings. The same can be said for the ocean side of the peninsula. Crashing waves and blowing sand made it difficult to observe and count. But that’s a yearly risk, really – who can predict December weather? – and so this year was an aberration, not the norm.
Overall, 18,486 individual birds comprising 84 species were seen and recorded. The total number of birds is actually slightly more than last year (helped greatly by the 11,625 Dunlin seen) but for comparison, last year we had 88 species and some years we’ve been close to 100. I don’t think this indicates a natural decline, but rather the challenges in seeing what’s there. Last year, I lamented that “there were no Brants, no Greater White-fronted Geese, no Gray Jays, no Snowy Plovers, no Northern Shovelers, no owls of any species, no Coots, no Bitterns, no Sapsuckers and only Common Loons.” This count we still didn’t have any Gray Jays, Northern Shovelers, owls, Coots or Bitterns but we did have 10 Brants, 21 White-fronted Geese, 8 Snowy Plovers, a Red-breasted Sapsucker and all three loon species that we might expect to see in the winter.
Of course, the good news and the bad news and overall drop in species means that there were regular species that weren’t seen, such as Peregrine Falcon and Northern Harrier, and really any members of that family except Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk and American Kestrel. Other omissions this year that we would normally expect to see were Ring-necked Duck, Great Egret, Hairy Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Bewick’s Wren or any warblers except Townsend’s. And last year’s star – Bar-tailed Godwit – was nowhere to be seen this year. But that’s kind of the story every year – each count is different.
There were some unusual sightings, too. We had 6 American Dippers – again! We also had 2 Snow Geese, 6 Chipping Sparrows and a White-throated Sparrow. And this year’s star might be the Black Phoebe seen in the North Oceanside sector by Suzy Whittey. That species has been seen more frequently in SW Washington in recent years but I believe it’s the first time it’s been spotted during the count. A Hooded Oriole again made an appearance this year, in the Bay Center area, but unfortunately it was again outside the count week. Bummer! As always, the variety, and the unexpected, are what make birding, and bird counts, interesting!
Many thanks to the counters who persevered through the awful weather to collect another year of valuable data, and especially to Suzy Whittey, who did anther great job of organizing the count and making sure we all had the information we needed to do the job. Next year’s count will be on December 17th. No doubt it will combine the expected and the unexpected, too!
By Darrel Whipple
"Well, eagles aren't going to like this place!" remarked Mike Tweedy as we turned around in disappointment at the gate of the county shooting range near the mouth of the Toutle.
Indeed. The place was loaded with dozens of vehicles apparently owned by recreational shooters, but also by folks plying their skills -- well, actually their kids' skills -- at moto-cross, creating an insufferable din as the bikes bounced and flew around a course over the extensive mound of sand dredged from the Toutle and Cowlitz rivers.
No sooner had we started back toward the Cowlitz River to continue the Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey, when we saw two bright adult eagles posting watch in the two nearest trees to the moto-cross cacophany! What. were. those. eagles. thinking?
It reminded me of Prof. Mayhew's Second Law of Animal Behavior: An animal will be where you find it. (Mayhew's First Law was: An animal will do what it damn well pleases.) Go figure.
Anyway, it was a great day to run the survey -- Saturday, February 20, 2021 -- and we had a respectable final count of 21 eagles. Seven of them were sub-adults, birds still in their first three years of life, not having attained adult plumage. It's good to see that the population may be replacing itself in our region, after many decades of nesting failure attributed to DDT or PCBs in the food chain. The Silver Lake nests are notably successful recently, as five of our observed sub-adults today were found there.
Most of our sightings were near nests or territories where I had found them in prior years' surveys, even though we often had to scan distant conifers to find them. Mike was good at spotting that little speck of white on a hillside of green.
Other species that were highlights of this day's outing were American Kestrel, Bufflehead and Tundra Swan.
We were conducting the 43rd Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey sponsored by WHAS, roughly following a vehicle route that was prescribed in 1979, when WDFW and other entities kicked off a ten-year eagle population study in the state. This year's survey yielded 11 adults and 5 sub-adults in the north latitude-longitude block (Coweeman mouth to the I-5 bridge over the Cowlitz) and 3 adults and 2 sub-adults in the south block (Coweeman to Kalama Marina).
Each block is about eight by twelve miles in size, and the route covers approximately 120 miles. The survey hours were 7:45 am to 3:30 pm, with temperatures in the 40s and an occasional shower.
The total of 21 eagles has been par for the course over the last few years. (Last year was a notable exception: we had 74 eagles on February 25, 2020, attracted from all over the region by the late smelt run!)