[Tweeters] Sequim-Dungeness CBC results

B Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Thu Dec 29 13:08:37 PST 2016

Hello, Tweeters,

It was a challenging year for the Sequim-Dungeness Christmas Count, held on Dec 19. Some people driving to the count couldn’t get here because of snowy roads, and others stayed in bed with "flu-like" symptoms. Pre-dawn owling started out with occasionally heavy rain showers in the lowlands and snow in the Olympic foothills. Winds peaked at 34 mph in mid-morning at the Dungeness Spit lighthouse. The weather settled down about midday, but the damage was done — we ended up tallying 140 species, our third lowest total for the last 22 years, and 14 species below last year’s record high.

126 people participated in the CBC, counting a total of 65,073 birds. The 10 most abundant species were Am. Wigeon (13,848 birds), Mallard (8121), American Robin (4694), Northern Pintail (3933), Dunlin (3042), large pink-legged gulls (Glaucous-winged Gull plus Olympic Gull hybrids) (2622), European Starling (2063), Dark-eyed Junco (2017), Brant (1823) and Bufflehead (1356). These 10 species contributed about 2/3rds of all the birds for the count.

Very few species set high counts this year. Disparate species like Trumpeter Swans, Cackling and Canada Geese, Merlin, Brown Creeper, and American Pipit all set record highs. It was the second highest year for Anna’s Hummingbird and the third highest for California Quail. Other species numbering well above long term averages included Eurasian Wigeon, Bald Eagle, Virginia Rail (despite frozen marshes), Red-breasted Sapsucker, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and White-crowned Sparrow.

As always, other species had low counts, or were missed altogether. Wood Ducks only made count-week. Harlequin Ducks continued their downward decline. Black Scoters had their second lowest count in the 41 years of the SDCBC, and Long-tailed Ducks and American Coots had their second lowest counts for the last 20 years. Sanderlings, Pigeon Guillemots, and Marbled Murrelets tallied well below their long-term averages. Some of these low numbers were likely due to the challenging weather, particularly to frozen ponds and to a very bouncy offshore boat. Last, irruptive finches scored low, particularly Evening Grosbeaks, which were totally absent this year.

As usual, several “unusual" species showed up for our count. Fortunately some of these had been present for several days or weeks, providing always-fortuitous “stake-outs."
Emperor Goose - 1 at Dungeness Spit, first found on 12/11.
Black-crowned Night-Heron – 2 birds at Dungeness. BCNH have been present for the last 6 SDCBCs.
Turkey Vulture - 1 seen count week on 12/16 at 3 Crabs.
Pacific Golden-Plover - 1 bird with Black-bellied Plovers along Schmuck Rd, first found on 12/3.
Willet - 1 at Dungeness Bay, present since August. Second year for a winter-over Willet - could it be the same bird?
Red Phalarope - 1 seen by the boat party
Cassin's Auklet - 1 seen at Discovery Bay
Glaucous Gull – 1 at Dungeness Spit
Bohemian Waxwing - Bird of the year! We tallied 404, ranging from 3 Crabs to Graysmarsh, with 225 just at Jamestown. In 41 years, this is only the second SDCBC to record Bohemian Waxwings (last time they occurred was 16 birds seen in 1983). They have been present in the area since at least 12/5, and still here.
Swamp Sparrow - 2 at Graysmarsh

Many thanks to all our stalwart counters, and particularly to the property owners and agencies who allowed us access. And even more thanks to the gracious cooks who provided food at our compilation dinner. Yummy! Final totals will be available on-line in a couple weeks in the Harlequin Happenings, OPAS’s newsletter.

Happy 2017!
Bob Boekelheide

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