Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Bird Count - 2015

 It's nearly Christmas, which means it's time for the Christmas Bird Count! Started in 1900, the Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running bird count in the country. It started with a simple idea--instead of going out and shooting the birds, why not count them instead? It caught on, and today over 2,000 places participate in Christmas Bird Counts around the world. They are held between December 14 and January 5, which means you still have time to participate in one! I have a link at the end to help you find your nearest count.

I participated in the Snake Valley CBC on Monday. It was a cold and windy day and not very pleasant to be outside. Nevertheless, the birding was actually decent. I had a new camera lens and had fun putting it to the test. Above, I was happy to see individual feathers on the Dark-eyed Junco.

A Mallard took flight when I got close.

I heard the chattering of the Belted Kingfisher before I saw him. What a hairdo! Or should I say featherdo? I wonder if the tips of his feathers had frozen. He was hanging out at the rearing station, which is full of yummy fish, his favorite food. Smart bird.

Not all the birds are so easy to see. In fact, for quite a few of them I have to peer into bushes and wait for them to move where I can see enough identifying features. (In the summer, I never see about 40% of the birds, I just have to identify them by their songs and calls.) Below you can see the striped breast with a central spot of the Song Sparrow.

I headed up Snake Creek into Great Basin National Park, where the road was snow-covered. Many years I can't go too far up this road for the CBC, but there has been so little snow this year, I just kept going and going.

At one stop I was rewarded with a close-up view of a Red-breasted Nuthatch.

I made it to the end of the road, where I admired the new interpretive signs. It will be fun to head out on those trails next spring and summer.

After I finished Snake Creek I went down to Pruess Lake to see what was out. There was some ice on the lake, but not too much. I saw a bird fly down to a little mud island, and it turned out to be a Northern Flicker.

At the other end of the lake were hundreds of ducks, but the lighting wasn't the best for identifying them.

However, it was fun lighting for getting ducks and their shadows.

And I enjoyed seeing two rows of ducks march.

On Wednesday I went into Ely for their CBC. Here is one of the exotic birds we saw. Do you know what it is?
If you answered emu, you're right! We found three of them plus an ostrich on a ranchette just outside of town.

We didn't find a whole lot of birds, even though the day was beautiful. Nevertheless, it was nice to be outside and enjoying the beauty around us. Here's a Northern Harrier.

Maybe this inspires you to participate in a CBC? There are lots of Christmas Bird Counts left this season, and all experience levels are welcome. To learn more, check out Audubon's website.
Happy Birding!
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