Saturday 28 December 2013

St. John's CBC 2013

On Dec. 26 I joined Lancy Cheng, and Richard Thomas to scour my neighbourhood for any birds we could find. The weather was perfect, very little wind and crisp air made hearing birds calling very easy. Only problem was that there were not many birds! Usually this route turns up some autumn vagrants that make the fatal decision to try to overwinter. Last year we had a YB Chat, Nashville Warbler, Northern Mockingbird, Baltimore Oriole, & Hermit Thrush. Any of those birds would have easily been the best bird of the day had they been found this year.

This year my group had to cover the same route I've done for the last 3 years, but we also had to check all the local ponds. Usually that'd be a whole days task, but this year the ponds are all frozen and the only remaining bits of open water are at river outflows making the counting quick. Unfortunately, our group dipped on any wigeon. This is probably the first year in some decades that wigeon has not been seen on this count! Yikes. Temperatures have barely gone above zero this month, and we've had a massive dumping of snow over the last few weeks.

The highlights from my group this year were high counts of Tufted Duck and Common Grackle (75 & 36, respectively). Their numbers are obviously increasing in town, but if the winter conditions as they have been, it'll be difficult for them to survive!

Hard to imagine that these juncos are finding much food in the deep snow:

Flickers overwinter in decent numbers in St. John's - it's always nice to see this colourful birds but it's easy to take them for granted!

A Song Sparrow was trying to fit in with the gulls at Quidi Vidi:

My group also found a new male Common Teal (Eurasian Green-winged Teal) in town. This one didn't have a horizontal white line, but it had pronounced white facial lines, and was still moulting from its basic plumage.