‘Tis the Christmas Bird Count season

  • Dec. 17, 2012 7:00 a.m.

Margo Hearne and Peter Hamel–Martin woke up to the moons of Jupiter and we followed a star in the east all the way south. It might well have been the ‘star of wonder, star of light’ seen all those Christmases ago! Equally wonderful were the birds we saw during the Skidegate Inlet Christmas Bird Count on Dec 16.The weather co-operated all day, except for a quick blizzard that hit the boat crew. Other than that squall, they had a great day on the water; clear, sunny and calm. Over two hundred Western Grebes sat on the water near Sandilands Island and Carey photographed a Hermit Thrush, amazingly rare for this time of year, sitting on a rock beside a Black Oystercatcher. All the crew, Barb, Debby and Carey also saw the three Hooded Mergansers which we don’t always get on this count. Sandra picked up a few Turnstones along the bay and the crew also found many oystercatchers, the 157 last year topped the count for all of Canada so we’ll see how it will go this year. The shorebirds at Sandspit were also a highlight with a huge flock of Dunlin swinging over the beach at high tide. Black-bellied Plovers and Rock Sandpipers were in the mix, and a Snow Bunting flew across the beach like a small white snowball with wings. Four Snowy Owls sat rather forlornly along the margins of the airstrip, their companions have moved on and these ones are getting very weak. If you do pick one up, put it in a box and feed it tiny scraps of raw meat of any kind and let us know. Some of the interesting warblers we saw earlier in the fall are still here, especially an Orange-crowned and a Wilson’s, both very late sightings. The Wilson’s is the first for any island count ever. A large flock of eagles circled over Skidegate Inlet, a long way away, there must have been something edible out there, and small flocks of Red Crossbills sat sunning themselves in the high spruce around the golf course. All in all, a great day for bird-watching with a total of 76 species for the count. Next counts are Greater Massett on Dec. 27, Port Clements Dec. 28 and Tlell on Dec. 29.

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