Eager participants in the 2012 Ashcroft-Cache Creek Christmas Bird Count (Dec. 19): Bill Drinkwater

Good year for song birds and raptors

Ashcroft-Cache Creek Christmas Bird Counters wade through hundreds of pigeons to find a few gems.

Part of the 113th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, the eighth annual Ashcroft-Cache Creek Bird Count took place on Dec. 19 with a good turnout of nine eager bird counters, forming four teams that searched from Hat Creek Rd. in the south, to just before the Bonaparte Reserve in the north, and east to the Christian Ranch.

Participants included Team Leader Karl Ricker from Whistler, Bert Parke and Ray Thom from Logan Lake, Ann Gibson from Winfield and local enthusiasts Maria Russell Martin, Laura Martin, Bill Drinkwater, Sonja Matthews and Wendy Coomber.

Other than finding over 400 American Robins, a green winged teal, a belted kingfisher and a number of hawks, the Count was in line with previous years, with 36 species. There was a bit of excitement when local residents said they had seen an eastern phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) at their feeder in Ashcroft, but the bird could not be found.

Forty-one species were confirmed in the Savona-Walhachin Count on Dec. 21, including several horned larks at Deadman Flats.

The Ashcroft-Cache Creek Count found no woodpeckers or owls – although a northern saw-whet was photographed in Ashcroft a few days later, very few ducks other than the usual dozens of mallards, one lonely chickadee, and only 11 chukkars although lots of fresh tracks were found.

The group had a few nice surprises, including  a green winged teal which was a first for the Count, three merlins, five red tailed hawks, one rough legged hawk and almost 50 bald eagles, 250 redpolls, several pine siskins which hadn’t been spotted since the 2009 Count,  three northern shrikes, one American Dipper and  48 Cassin’s finches. They also found the usual hundreds of starlings, sparrows, rock pigeons (1,050), magpies, ravens, Bohemian Waxwings (644), etc.

Data from the Count across Canada, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean are amassed into a huge database that reflects the distribution and numbers of winter birds over time.

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