This was the 98th Christmas Bird Count in North America and the 45th consecutive Wolfville Count. Initially, on December 25, 1900, 27 observers participated on 25 different Christmas Bird Counts. Since those first years, the number of counts have so grown in number and scope that, of course, not all counts can be held on Christmas, so there is a an official count period from mid-December to early January. There are about 1700 official individual counts and over 45,000 observers take part. Of course there are also many “unofficial” ones throughout all the states and provinces.
In early November we had our first snow and unusually some of this snow is still with us. Water bodies froze early forcing some waterfowl to migrate earlier than normal. These two factors had a decided effect on the Count numbers as for example there were no warblers recorded for the first time in years. Nevertheless sparrows made a good showing being almost identical to last year’s numbers. On Count Day temperatures ranged from -10C to -4C with sunny conditions particularly in the forenoon and light winds all day. Participants included 50 observers in 25-27 field parties and another 62 at 51 feeders. In terms of party hours and distance travelled the effort by field observers was similar to last year..
The total of 73 species was average for this Count in recent years. The total number seen was 73665, well short of our provincial record of 92,412 seen in 1992. There was one species new to the Count, an adult Peregrine Falcon seen at Habitant. This brought the total species seen since the Count’s inception to 146. Two other great finds were 1) a Hermit Thrush, seen by Phil Taylor, as it has only been recorded once before on the Wolfville Count, and 2) two Black-backed Woodpeckers, found by Bernard Forsythe, which has also been recorded only once before. However the rarest species were found just after the Count Period, both near the Wolfville sewage ponds where Bernard Forsythe turned up a LeConte’s Sparrow and Richard Stern a Seaside Sparrow. Both were undoubtedly there on Count Day but because of their furtive nature, searchers would have been unusually lucky to locate them. Inexplicably in spite of the snow cover Northern Flicker even increased over last year’s record of 34, to a new high of 48. Fox Sparrows are seldom found this late so three at feeders, equalling the all-time high, was a good find. In contrast to the 1996 Count, irruptive species were in good to high numbers and I understand this is typical across North America. Notable were 999 Common Redpoll and 2107 Bohemian Waxwing, the latter easily outdoing the previous high of 477. In fact Cedar Waxwings almost doubled their previous high, with 385 vs. 194. Similar to last year, Herring Gull numbers were lower than normal. However around 4 p.m. approaching high tide, there were huge numbers of gulls over the Minas Basin which made our count of 12,000+ look a bit small.
The feeder-watchers contributed 39 species with the aforementioned Fox Sparrows and a Baltimore Oriole being the most interesting. Eva Urban’s at Avonport was the most productive with 26 species (not all at the feeders). The Yellow-headed Blackbird which had been present in Avonport and Gaspereau for over a month appeared at Urbans feeder on December 20, just before Count Day!
The post-count gathering at Acadia was well attended as usual. The chowder, chili and desserts were greatly enjoyed by all. Thanks go to Brenda Thexton, Judy Tufts, Lorna Hart and to the others who contributed to the event. Special thanks to the field observers for their efforts and to all of those who checked their feeder that day. I would also like to thank Jim Wolford and Mike McCall for coordinating and compiling the efforts of the feeder-watchers and to my wife, Stella, for checking the data.
|Great Blue Heron||6|
|Great Black-backed Gull||2498|
|American Tree Sparrow||202|
|Total number of species||73|
|Total number of individuals||73665|
|Other species seen in Count Week….Yellow-headed Blackbird.|
Field Observers and Feeder-watchers
Agar Adamson; Margaret Alliston; Jim Amos; Patricia Bernier; Diana Bishop; Sherman Boates; Larry Bogan; Mike Boudreau; Carol Buckley; Sandy Connelly; Susan Cox; Peggy Crawford-Kellock; Debbie and Jim Daigle; Gail and Pat Davis; Ed and Ev Eagles; Joan Eaton; Mark and Paul Elderkin; Bob Flecknell; George and Harold Forsyth; Bernard Forsythe; Jamie, Glenys and Merritt Gibson; Ed Hancock; Lorna Hart; Blanche Healy; Tom Herman; Maxine Hill; Dennis Hipburn; Blair Hodgman; Bob Horne; Isobel, John and Winnie Horton; Nicole Humble; Douglas and Shirley Jackson; Mark Johnston; Ian Jonsen; Ann and Jerry Karttunen; Pat Kelly; Sandy Kempton; Angus and Stella MacLean; Shirley Marston; Bill and Pat Martell; Jessie Martin; Bernard and Eleanor Mason; Sheila McCurdy; Pat McLeod; Randy and Terri Milton; Susan Montonen; Barney Morison; Edna Mutch; Gary Ness; Nancy and Pam Nickerson; Joe Nocera; Mike O’Brien; Ian Paterson; Linda and Terry Pearson; Mary Pratt; Tom Regan; Stan Riggs; Gordon Robart; Benita Rogers; Marg Russell; Barry Sabean; Meg Scheid; Kathy Schaffner; Jack and Ruth Scott; Mabel Sheffield; Ed Shynal; Peter Smith; Richard Stern; George and Maeann Stevens; Merriam Sullivan; Hugh Swandell; Meredith Sweeney; Phil Taylor; Bill and Brenda Thexton; Dianne Thorpe; Jean Timpa; Chris Toplack; David Tracey; Gerry Trueman; Gordon Tufts; Deanna and Eva Urban; Gertrude Waseem; Heather Watts; Sherman Williams; Jim Wolford; Frank Woolaver; Jeni Wright; Barry and Betty Yoell.