By Andrew Emlen
The 20th annual Wahkiakum Christmas Bird Count was held on December 29, 2017, with 21 participants. Rain fell throughout most of the day, heavily at times. There were also fewer birding parties than usual, particularly kayakers to cover the Columbia River islands, so numbers of species and individual birds were lower than average: 104 species, 27,758 birds.
The most abundant bird was Cackling Goose with 7644, followed by Greater Scaup with 2785, the lowest Greater Scaup total in the history of the count. A large falcon seen by Mike Patterson in Brownsmead was probably the Gyrfalcon identified by other birders in the same area the following week. Great Egrets continue to increase their numbers in the area; this year's total of 35 nearly doubled the previous high count.
Last year was the first year Turkey Vultures had been recorded wintering in the count circle, on Puget Island, and Turkey Vultures were present again during this year's count week. Misses included Horned Lark, as not enough boaters were available to send someone to their year-round colony on White's Island.
Other than that, there was a fair representation of the common species in the circle. Full results can be found on Audubon's website: http://netapp.audubon.org/cbcobservation/
Many thanks to all the volunteers who braved the wet weather.
By Bob Reistroffer
25 field observers and three feeder watchers joined and spent the cool sunny day finding 17,160 birds with 97 species recorded. The temperature ranged from 31° to 42°. Also during count week an additional 3 species were reported
High or low counts this year: No low counts this year but several highs;
249 Trumpeter Swans, 329 Gadwalls, 468 American Wigeons, 445 Northern Shovelers, 342 Ring-necked Ducks, 126 Common Goldeneyes, 96 Hooded Mergansers, 56 Bald Eagles, 5 Greater Yellow Legs, 12 Thayer’s Gulls, 28 Western Meadowlark’s,
Seen during count week: Clark’s Grebe, 8 Evening Grosbeaks, and 16 Common Redpolls (first reported sighting in Cowlitz County by Russ Koppendrayer).
Thank you all for a great job.
Hope to see you all next year on Tuesday, Jan 1, 2019.
As usual our composite year list for Cowlitz County got off to a big start on January 1st with the Christmas Bird Count in the Longview/Kelso area.
Then on the 2nd the first ever Cowlitz record of Common Redpolls were found in Longview's Altrusa Park. And not just a single bird, but a nice flock of sixteen mixed with four American Goldfinch. This tiny finch of the north is not found in western Washington annually, but this has been a banner winter for them. Typically when they are found it is one or two individuals in a flock of Pine Siskins, but this year pure flocks of Common Redpolls have been found in numerous places as far south as Olympia. Even farther south there was a flock near Morton for a first Lewis County record and another group seen on Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge in Wahkiakum County.
This phenomenon could well continue through the winter until they return north in late February. They especially like the catkins of alders and birches and may even show up at a seed feeder so be on the lookout in your neighborhood.
Russ shot the image with his phone held up to the scope eyepiece (digiscoped).
Download the pdf here.
In the last two months we only added one species, that being a Northern Shrike on Canal Road near Toutle. We seem to find this species in the county about half of the years.
This was enough to get us exactly to 200 species in 2017, a threshold that we do not always reach, but well short of our record of 207 species. The lone species new to the list this year was a Long-tailed Jaeger found on the Woodland Bottoms. We had one miss of a species that is typically found in Cowlitz annually, that being Northern Saw-whet Owl. This species is a fairly common winter species in the conifer forests of the county and a few likely nest here. Its absence from the list reflects more on our not seeking it out than the lack of its presence.
Russ Koppendrayer is looking forward to a fun year of birding in 2018 and seeing all your reports either to him directly or through Tweeters or eBird.
Download the pdf here.
We were only able to add one species to our list in the last two months, but what a fun species it was. Cowlitz's second ever record of Sabine's Gull showed up in the Woodland Bottoms and spent at least nine days entertaining a large number of birders from Washington and northwest Oregon. This bird was a juvenile and while quite drab when on the water or walking on the shoreline, it shows a very striking black and white pattern when in flight.
Sabine's Gull is a very common fall migrant in Washington waters of the Pacific Ocean, but a few do seem to come through the interior of the state with some following the Columbia River downstream. Usually these are seen only by one person as they go by. To have one hang around for nine days is quite rare. This small gull favored a public access stretch of the Columbia that is used by bank fishermen and was finding a plentiful food supply of discarded bait and being around fish carcasses and getting small chunks that came off as the larger gulls pulled the carcass apart.
Download the pdf here.