[Tweeters] Cle Elum CBC 2018 results - Juncos and Varied Thrush - OH MY

birdmarymoor at gmail.com birdmarymoor at gmail.com
Tue Dec 18 13:38:38 PST 2018

Wow – a CBC for the record books yesterday. We really lucked out with the weather, apparently. Yeah we had a lot of fog, but this morning I-90 was closed from North Bend to Ellensburg due to spinouts, so the weather definitely took a turn for the ugly just hours after our count.
The count featured three new species for the Cle Elum count: NORTHERN SHOVELER, RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (first found Nov. 30 on Masterson Rd.), and HARRIS’S SPARROW (on Watson Cutoff Rd). The Teanaway team also had a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, a very good species for Kittitas County, as well as a LINCOLN’S SPARROW.
Everyone noticed the abundance of DARK-EYED JUNCOS and VARIED THRUSH, but the extent of this really comes through when looking at the numbers.
For juncos, the total was a remarkable 1502 birds. The previous high count was only 893! That’s a truly enormous increase, and even more astonishing since last year set a Low Count of just 139. So this year’s total was well over 10 TIMES LAST YEAR.
In many ways, though, that pales in comparison to this year’s count of VARIED THRUSH. Our previous High Count was just 13 birds. This year, each of the six sectors reported 3 to 11 TIMES as many! We had a total of 511 VARIED THRUSH. That’s nearly 11 TIMES the number of Varied Thrushes counted in the previous 13 years combined, and nearly 40 times the previous High Count!!!
By no means were those the only High Counts. We had 412 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS; the previous High Count for them was just 94. For NORTHERN FLICKERS, our 70 beat the old record of 49. RED CROSSBILLS also had a good showing, with a count of 91 beating the old record of 74. NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS, at 6, doubled the previous best. At least 6 more species set High Count records.
Low Counts for BALD EAGLE and COMMON RAVEN were undoubtedly attributable mostly to the fog. Other Low Counts were for MOURNING DOVE and MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE.
Missed species included Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Pygmy-Owl, White-headed Woodpecker, and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. A lone CEDAR WAXWING on Sunday was our only Count Week bird. We did not have any of the glamour birds such as Bohemian Waxwing, Snow Bunting, Common Redpoll, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, nor Pine Grosbeak.
The incredible High Counts contributed to a huge new record for Total Number of Birds: 5226 birds, topping the previous record of 4753. Our species total of 75 is second only to the 78 in 2015.
The unusual combination of snow-covered uplands, with somewhat scant snow cover and temps well above freezing in the lowlands, as well as a good amount of open water in some ponds certainly contributed to the high bird count, though it isn’t sufficient to explain the amazing showing by JUNCOS and VARIED THRUSH.
Enormous thanks to the 20 birders who joined me for this epic count.
== Michael Hobbs
== www.marymoor.org/birding.htm
== BirdMarymoor at frontier.com

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