Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Bird Count…and BirdsEye—a really cool iPhone birding app!

Last Saturday on December 19 I participated in my first ever dawn-to-dusk Christmas Bird Count. I joined the Hamilton-Fairfield CBC team and birded areas in Butler County I had never been to, being introduced to Gilmore Ponds and spots along the Great Miami River (a lot different from my haunt, the Little Miami River). Our team leader, Mike (who has a blog of his own, "Everybody Funny"), knew where a few special birds were hiding, so along the way I tagged three life birds, seeing an American White Pelican (huge wingspan, huge bill, hugely cool!), a small flock of American Pipits (a sweet song rising up from the grass as they took to the wing), and a Least Sandpiper (tucked away on a tiny gravel island in the Great Miami, Mike had been staking out the bird for the past couple of weeks. I would never have seen him on my own because he blended in so well).

…early in the morning as I pulled out of my driveway the yard and trees were covered in snow. Large snowflakes were falling softly and the beauty and silence of the morning were so inviting I had to snap off a shot before driving on.

...our little band of birders.

Freshly fallen snow softened our footsteps as we walked the covered paths, and every now and then thick clumps of the white stuff would crash down on our heads, making us laugh, as the accumulated ice crystals began to melt and then slide off the branches above us.

...not much compares with the beauty of snow-frosted branches.

It snowed nonstop through the morning and early afternoon, eventually turning into a wet snow/rain mix. I was wearing my crazy-warm parka, so I never became chilled, but by the end of the day I was soaked through. I really enjoyed myself and am already looking forward to next year! Here is a list of the birds from our count (list supplied by our team leader, Mike):

American White Pelican 1
Snow Goose 1
Canada Goose 1978
Mute Swan 2
Wood Duck 3
Gadwall 2
American Wigeon 4
American Black Duck 9
Mallard 933
Blue-winged Teal 8
Northern Shoveler 5
Northern Pintail 11
Green-winged Teal 3
Canvasback 16
Redhead 22
Ring-necked Duck 17
Lesser Scaup 6
Bufflehead 28
Common Goldeneye 4
Hooded Merganser 9
Ruddy Duck 45
Wild Turkey 2
Pied-billed Grebe 8
Great Blue Heron 20
Bald Eagle 1
Northern Harrier 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 2
Cooper's Hawk 7
Red-shouldered Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 19
American Kestrel 9
American Coot 135
Sandhill Crane
Killdeer 9
Least Sandpiper 1
Ring-billed Gull 16
Herring Gull 1
Rock Pigeon 1698
Mourning Dove 618
Great Horned Owl 2
Northern Saw-whet Owl 1
Belted Kingfisher 9
Red-bellied Woodpecker 26
Yellow-belled Sapsucker 9
Downy Woodpecker 66
Hairy Woodpecker 6
Northern Flicker 21
Pileated Woodpecker 14
Eastern Phoebe 1
Blue Jay 15
American Crow 3
Horned Lark 98
Carolina Chickadee 157
Tufted Titmouse 36
White-breasted Nuthatch 29
Brown Creeper 10
Carolina Wren 55
Winter Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 16
Eastern Bluebird 43
Hermit Thrush 7
American Robin 1846
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 7
European Starling 8833
American Pipit 10
Eastern Towhee 7
American Tree Sparrow 92
Field Sparrow 3
Fox Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 116
Swamp Sparrow 4
White-throated Sparrow 124
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco 77
Lapland Longspur 15
Northern Cardinal 180
Red-winged Blackbird 158
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle 3
Brown-headed Cowbird 6
House Finch 107
American Goldfinch 133
House Sparrow 109

…this morning, waiting for me under the tree from Rick were two things that will really help me next year during the CBC--the iPhone birding app BirdsEye and a spotting scope (can you believe it? Now I can bird with the big kids!). BirdsEye is powered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's eBird and works in real time letting you find out what birds are being reported in your area and when and where they were sighted (read Kenn Kaufman’s review on Birding with Kenn & Kimberly for more info). I can’t wait to use the spotting scope. We still have to get the eyepieces, though…Rick didn’t realize they were sold separately, but soon….soon….


HBFG said...

What a beautiful winterwonderland! Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch in's neue Jahr wünsche ich Dir auch! :))

Midmarsh John said...

Beautiful snow scenery Kelly. What a lot of birds your group spotted.
Have fun with the scope. I have seen really good photos taken through them.
Sounds as though the BirdsEye app will be useful. The name did make me smile though as Birds Eye is the name of a UK frozen food company - peas, fish fingers and such like ;)

TonyC said...

Lovely winter pics Kelly. Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2010

hope you don't have to wait till next Christmas for the eyepiece....

JPT said...

A huge variety of birds - you're very lucky!

Greener Bangalore said...

Winter Winter everywhere! lovely snaps Kelly and wish i could join one day with your group for bird watching to have a few snaps :)

Toni said...

Awesome Kelly! I did my first Christmas bird Count this year also. What great gifts you received.

Wanda said...

I was out just after dawn that same day Kelly, but not till dusk!

Enjoy your scope! Are you racing out today to get the eyepiece?

Roy said...

I didn't make our CBC; I have a tough time getting up that early. I talked to a lot of people who did make it though, and we have a local person who does email birding alerts and a daily newsletter, and she sent out the final count. We had record high counts in Common Mergansers and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and a record low in Harlequin ducks. I had to laugh when I saw the numbers on Canada Geese and Mallards; Rachel might as well have just put up the "infinity" sign - ∞ - for them. Heh, heh! Yeah, we get a lot here.

Our count missed the snow, though; it didn't start snowing here last Saturday until about 8 pm. I wonder if weather conditions have a significant effect on bird counts?

Busy Bee Suz said...

How fun!!! I can't believe the amount of birds spotted in one day.
Nice present too.
Merry Christmas, Suz

Anonymous said...

Thats quite a list Kelly. As you say, we can look forward to the New Year and the Spring and all that brings in birdwatching. Especially now that you are one of the Big Kids. {:)

Krista Meister said...

Oh, lucky you, Kelly! And wow, you got a lot of beautiful snow! Hope you had a very enjoyable Christmas!


Anonymous said...

I did my first CBC last year. I look forward to it every Christmas season, now. It's a blast, even when conditions are hard. You at least get bragging rights for that! Last year, my binoculars froze solid so I couldn't focus. That's how cold it was. RRR

holdingmoments said...

Amazing bird count Kelly. I bet you had a really good time. Who cares about snow, when the birds are that good. lol
Those presents sound just perfect.

Warren Baker said...

Great snowy scenes there Kelly! Thats quite a daylist you've racked up there, whats next, new year bird count ?

Chris Petrak said...

Nice list for a winter day - and you must have open water, which certainly helps. Our water was mostly iced in, and that had a big effect on our count.

Laure Ferlita said...

Oh, what gorgeous photos - truly a winter wonderland! And great gifts too!! Congrats on the spotting scope!

Adrienne in Ohio said...

How exciting! Those snowy pictures are so serene. Merry Christmas, Kelly!

Elaine said...

Looks like you had a wonderful day and your photos are lovely! You had a big variety of birds in your count. Here there were only 24 different species and 8700 birds counted, the largest number being redpolls and number two ravens, and surprisingly two robins. Last year the total count was higher, but the weather was chilly this year, starting out at 36 below at 10 a.m. and with only about five hours of daylight. A lot of the activity was around feeders. I haven't ever participtated in the count--seems like there's always things going on when it takes place.

What a thoughtful gift from your hubby. I'm sure you'll really enjoy that!

yen said...

nice trip to end the year, happy new year

Jayne said...

Wow, that's quite a list Kelly! And what a beautiful, pristine day you all had to count. I had to LOL at the count of Starlings!

What great gifts your sweet hubby got for you! Whahoooo!

Diane said...

So many birds were spotted!!! And indeed what a little merry band of birders you all were! Beautiful photography and not surprised one bit with how good Santa (or is that Rick?) was to you this year!

Allison said...

Okay, how do you get it to snow all over your blog? LOVE IT! And great pics--what a wonderful day for birding!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

What a fabulous way to spend Christmas! Hope you enjoy your new birding tools/toys and share your experiences with us. Merry Christmas!

Hilke Breder said...

Hi Kelly, I am amazed that you saw a White Pelican in Ohio in the winter! I didn't find this location marked on BirdsEye on my iPod Touch. Anyway, great list!

Montanagirl said...

Terrific set of winter photos Kelly! You certainly saw many and varied birds.

Gabrielle said...

You got a saw whet!?!?!

It looks like you had a beautiful setting to bird in. Back in my nature center days, we used to tell people there's no bad weather, just bad clothing choices. Sounds like you made some good clothing choices. I'm so glad you enjoyed the experience!

BTW, I'm a little late in saying this but I love the "new" cardinal header on your blog. It's really a beautiful painting.

oldcrow61 said...

Magical snow pictures. What a lot of bird you guys spotted.

Kelly said...

...thanks everyone for dropping year maybe I'll be able to participate in a couple of the counts. If you can do it, give it a try. You can always do a half-day also. Seeing the White Pelican was so cool. If you're looking for him, he's on the Great Miami River near downtown Hamilton. I can't remember the name of the park, but can find it out if you're in the area and want to find him. He's been there about 3 three weeks I think...

dAwN said...

Wow..lots of snow for your Bird count..we did the Christmas Birdcount here in Red Rock Canyon..will post soon..
Congrats on getting a scope..well almost a will love it..I think u may be digiscoping soon!
Happy Happy New Year to you and yours!

Tim Rucci said...

I Really enjoyed seeing the landscape dusted with snow. We don't get to see that stuff here in Florida, and it makes me want to travel north. Hope you had a merry Christmas, and best wishes for a Happy New Year !