[Tweeters] Sequim-Dungeness CBC preliminary results

B Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Tue Dec 25 13:38:14 PST 2018

Hello, Tweeters,

The 43rd Sequim-Dungeness CBC, held on Dec 17, tallied 145 species this year, three species above average for the last 25 years, but lower than our all-time high of 154 species in 2015. The total number of individual birds this year was 71,187, also above average, but lower than the all-time high count of 85,777 tallied in 2011. We had 104 field observers in 36 to 43 parties, along with 20 feeder watchers. The day started out beautiful with clear skies and calm winds for owling, becoming overcast and breezy in late morning, then downright windy and spitting rain by the end of the day.

The most abundant species this year, as is typical, was American Wigeon, with 11,020. Other abundant species, in decreasing order of abundance, were Mallard (9449), Cackling Goose (5400), American Robin (4716), Pine Siskin (3493), Northern Pintail (3389), Glaucous-winged/Olympic Gull (3122), Dunlin (2674), Brant (1742), and Bufflehead (1657). These 10 species made up about two-thirds of all the birds seen on our count.

It was the Year of the Goose. We set all-time record high counts for Greater White-fronted Goose, Snow Goose, and particularly Cackling Goose, present in large flocks around Dungeness this winter. Other species that posted high counts or close to it, were Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Barred Owl, Anna’s Hummingbird, Bushtit, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Swamp Sparrow, House Finch, and American Goldfinch. Standout species included Bushtit (632 total, recorded by over half our field parties), Yellow-rumped Warbler (big numbers at myrtle bushes in Dungeness), and goldfinch (one party recorded 363 goldfinches, 3X more than the previous high count). There certainly seems to be a trend for more southerly wintering species to remain later in our area this year, perhaps because of milder late fall weather.

Species that tallied very low numbers this year included White-winged Scoter (only 7, the lowest count ever, down from hundreds just 15 years ago), Long-tailed Duck, Red-necked Grebe, Western Grebe, Mew Gull, and, perhaps most interesting, European Starling. Low numbers of diving ducks and grebes might be because our offshore boat had to return to port early because of approaching bad weather, but even shoreline parties recorded very low numbers of these species. The starling count was the lowest in 36 years. Eurasian Collared-Doves seem to have plateaued, dropping from their high count reached in 2015.

Unusual species for this CBC included two Rough-legged Hawks in Dungeness, a Sora calling beautifully at dawn with Virginia Rails, the fourth straight year with a wintering Willet in Dungeness Bay, a Ruddy Turnstone at Dungeness Spit (first since 2007), two Yellow-billed Loons seen by our boat party, a photographed immature Gyrfalcon, a continuing Tropical Kingbird near Port Williams, a backyard California Scrub-Jay, one lovely Townsend’s Solitaire, three Palm Warblers at 3 Crabs, and a record six Swamp Sparrows seen by three different parties. Seems to be an exceptional year for both Swamp Sparrows and Palm Warblers, two species with similar nesting ranges across Canada in similar boggy habitats.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in our CBC, as well as the landowners who allowed access and the cooks who made our delicious compilation dinner.

Bob Boekelheide

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