Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Bird Count

Yesterday, as noted in the previous post, was the Christmas Bird Count in Wichita Falls.

The morning was beautiful with a glorious pink and blue sky, no wind, and a reasonable temperature (about 40 degrees). My group had the area around Lake Wichita, largely a walking route. Our species (in the order the species were first sighted):

Ring-billed gull: 836
Great-tailed grackle: 14
Blue jay: 13
Double-crested cormorant: 860
Goldfinch: 27
Mockingbird: 12
Red-winged blackbird: 304
Northern cardinal: 11
Sharp-shinned hawk: 1
Fox sparrow: 1
Mourning dove: 12
Great blue heron: 9
Least sandpiper: 10
Eastern meadowlark: 2
Meadowlark species: 22
Great egret: 1
Sparrow species: 6
American coot: 10
Northern shoveler: 5
Snowy egret: 1
Pied-billed grebe: 9
Killdeer: 2
Ruddy duck: 26
Greater yellowlegs: 1
Bufflehead: 13
House finch: 5
Bewick's wren: 6
Downy woodpecker: 1
Woodpecker species: 1
White-crowned sparrow: 26
Eurasian collared dove: 5
Song sparrow: 1
Robin: 8
Canada geese: 29
White pelican: 108
Eastern towhee: 6
European starling: 420
Slate-colored junco: 17
Ruby-crowned kinglet: 2
Belted kingfisher: 3
Inca dove: 6
Franklin's gulls: 3
Wood pigeon: 48
Blue-winged teal: 20
Green-winged teal: 8
Gull species: 25
Loggerhead shrike: 2
American kestrel: 3
House sparrow: 3
Northern Harrier: 1
Red-tailed hawk: 1

By the end of our count, the wind had kicked up and the temperature was dropping with the cold front coming through (lo 20's this AM). We had some birds we expected but didn't get, especially among the ducks, but overall a decent day.

We met at Jimmy Hoover's home for our annual Christmas Count spaghetti dinner to compile the results of the three teams. We cheated this year and bought dinner from the Olive Garden, but Earl Anderson brought his rum cake and the Hoovers supplied hot wassail, so not all traditions were jettisoned. The other two groups had a few species we didn't see, as expected, since the habitats differed. However, overall the number of species (72) and the number of individuals were all down from the norm. The Lucy Park team noted a lack of birds in Lucy Park this year. The Iowa Park team noted a lackluster result from Chaparral, which is normally a productive stop. But the Iowa Park team did get Sandhill cranes at the Lake Buffalo middle lake (the rest of the lake is outside the count circle).

But the Lake Wichita group had a good time. After all, a good day's birding is better than most anything else we could have been doing.

Good birding!

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