[Tweeters] Sequim-Dungeness CBC preliminary results

B Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Tue Dec 28 21:39:03 PST 2021

Hello, Tweeters,

On Dec 20, 2021, 97 field observers and 25 feeder watchers participated in the Sequim-Dungeness CBC. We tallied 141 species with one count-week species. The species count is two below the count's 25-year average of 143 species and 13 below the record of 154 species tallied in 2015.

The weather cooperated very well, overcast with fairly calm winds most of the day. Temperatures ranged down to the mid-20s F at night, freezing some ponds and marshes, then daytime highs reached the upper 30s. Thankfully, the big snows and really cold weather came after our count.

Total number of individual birds was 53,707, well below the count’s 25-year average and the lowest number of individuals on our CBC since 2012. Why fewer birds? For one, we tallied fewer dabbling ducks this year, with Mallards, wigeons, and pintails all at the low end of their long-term averages. Since dabbling ducks are usually among the most abundant species on this CBC, if their numbers are low, then the entire count's numbers are low.

Despite that, American Wigeon was still the most abundant species on our count, followed in the top-ten by Mallard, Dark-eyed Junco, American Robin, Pine Siskin, Glaucous-winged/Olympic Gull, Red-winged Blackbird, Green-winged Teal, European Starling, and Northern Pintail. These ten species made up 55 percent of all birds we counted.

Ten species set or tied all-time records for the 46-year history of the SDCBC: Greater White-fronted Goose, Common Merganser, Anna's Hummingbird, Sora, Barred Owl, Am Kestrel, Hermit Thrush, Spotted Towhee, Dark-eyed Junco, and Red-winged Blackbird. Other species that scored close to record counts included Pied-billed Grebe, Am Coot, and Golden-crowned Sparrow.

Species with far lower than average counts this year included Harlequin Duck, Sanderling, and Dunlin. The count of Harlequin Ducks (41) was the lowest since 1979. I don’t know what happened to the shorebirds, but we did have high tides all day, so many shorebirds may have been hiding out in fields and pastures where we didn’t see them.

Several unusual species graced our count. First, the Waggoner brothers discovered a Dickcissel at Jamestown, clearly a first for the SDCBC. Another first is a Lesser Black-backed Gull that has taken up winter residence at a local dairy. Other unusual species include three Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, a lone Bohemian Waxwing in a flock of Cedar Waxwings, and one Common Redpoll with Pine Siskins at John Wayne Marina.

The only count week species was Canvasback. Complete misses were Black Oystercatcher and Townsend's Warbler. A Tundra Swan here in early December unfortunately did not stick around.

Sadly, this is the first year since 2015 that we did not observe a lone Willet on our count. One Willet occurred during the last six winters in Dungeness Bay, possibly the same bird, but none have been seen here this winter. We also missed a Pacific Golden-Plover that has wintered around Sequim-Dungeness since 2016, likely one of the furthest-north wintering Pacific Golden-Plovers in the world.

Many thanks to all our wonderful counters, and to the property owners who graciously gave permission to access their lands. A full report will appear in the next newsletter of the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, Harlequin Happenings.

Bob Boekelheide, Dungeness

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