Did the Christmas Bird Count Today
Today I participated in the 57th Saint Bonaventure Christmas Bird Count or also known as the 107th Audubon Count. Tonight the group reflected the past 57 years in counting birds in this circle. I learned that Dr. Eaton has participated in every St. Bonaventure count since he started it back in 1950. He told us that “back in the early years that they would be happy with 20 species of birds”. Over time they slowly increased their numbers which currently averages around 50 species. With low numbers this year we found ourselves discussing better optics and other ways to increase our numbers (like taking a boat down the Allegheny River).
My day started today in section 3 with an American Kestrel stirring up 70 European Starlings. I then hiked through the woods for an hour with only a handful of chickadees. Hmm, so is this what the day is going to be like?? Quickly I learned that this year we needed to work for our birds but working hard would result in good birds!! I did have many new finds for my section and satisfied in the total numbers of birds that I observed.
The Cattaraugus County Bird Club as a team recorded 40 species and individually counted 3026 different birds. I was able to see 28 of those 40 species in 2 of the 6 sections within the circle. These numbers are much lower than our typical 50 species days from years past. I would have to believe that these numbers are low because of the unusual warmer temperatures and I can’t wait to see how other circles have or will do this season.
In between counting birdies, I did find many photographing opportunities but for most of the morning I was having all kinds of problems with my camera. Ever try taking pictures with a 400mm lens with it manually set on F22 ? When the sun came out, most everything was strongly washed out due to the auto ISO requiring it to be set on 1600. It wasn’t until I completed section 3 and move over to section 1 that I realized my F stops were so high!! I missed some very close encounters of a Golden Crowned Kinglet showing its colors on his head. I also missed out on numerous Sparrows and Chickadees that came close to investigating my pishing. The only picture which I would say was acceptable to publish was this Common Merganser. A good rule of thumb is once your camera is working again, the birds will not cooperate like this White-breasted Nuthatch mooning us.
I will include all 28 species that I saw in the comments box. I can’t wait to see how everyone else did.