Christmas Bird Count 2009

  • Dec. 21, 2009 3:00 p.m.

Skidegate InletBy Margo Hearne –We were guided to Skidegate Inlet by the waning moon as we began the count season under a clear sky. The first bird was a bald eagle sitting on a rock in the water and just beside the Spirit Lake trail a Red-tailed Hawk calmly greeted the dawn. From the very large to the very small. For the first time ever on the Haida Gwaii counts a Rufous Hummingbird fed in a private garden in Queen Charlotte. According to Marlene, it’s been there for over a month, feeding on the flowers of the hillside. A lovely find, so miniscule and bright in winter’s deep chill.It was such a clear, calm sunny day that all the participants were in good spirits; the tide was high, photos were taken, six blue Kingfishers caught the blue of the winter day and one very unusual, white, Glaucous Gull, a northern visitor (not to be confused with Glaucous-winged Gulls, our common island gull) sat on a rooftop behind the community hall. White was also the colour of the Snow Bunting flying over the airport at Sandspit, and slate-grey the colour of Brian’s two Dippers on the Honna River. Some years we have over 200 Varied Thrushes, this year only fourteen, but American Pipit numbers were up to 57 as they flitted over the grass beside the Canada, Snow and White-fronted and Geese. What appeared to be a scattering of leaves at the golf course turned into a Hermit Thrush feeding in the sun, a very rare bird at this time of year and it was a good day for Robins, 33 appeared together with two Yellow-rumped Warblers, always a delight in the middle of winter. Brant numbers were down a bit, only 36 were seen, but it was high tide, a good time for Bryan at Sandspit to catch a flight of shorebirds on camera; Black Turnstone, Sanderling and Dunlin all to wing under a blue sky. Total species number for the day was a record-making 78, as high as it’s been for a few years.Next count is Greater Masset Sunday 27 Dec. (Peter 626-5015; Martin 626-3888) and Tlell Wed. Dec. 30 (Sitka Studio 557-4241)