Maria Russell Martin and Loekie Van Der Wal scan the horizon for anything on wings during the bird count.

Maria Russell Martin and Loekie Van Der Wal scan the horizon for anything on wings during the bird count.

Rare finds in this year’s Christmas Bird Count

Eared Grebe and Pygmy Owls among the special finds in Ashcroft and Cache Creek.

The eighth annual Christmas Bird Count was held on Dec. 22 under gray skies as seven avid birders and adventurists – over half from out of town – combed the area from Venables Valley Rd. to the Bonaparte Reserve, to the Christian Ranch and north to Back Valley Rd., tallying up everything with feathers. Except the farmyard chickens.

The number of species counted has remained steady over the years at a moderate 36-39.

Led by Karl Ricker of Whistler, the group was made up of Loekie Van Der Wal, Ray Town and Bert Parke of Logan Lake, Marie Russell Martin of Ashcroft and Gary Winslow and Wendy Coomber of Cache Creek.

The day long hunt turned up some interesting finds, such as the solitary Eared Grebe found on the Thompson River near the CN bridge, not one but two pygmy owls, one of them spotted in the Boston Flats trailer park, a very active merlin (falcon) in Ashcroft, a northern shrike out near Ashcroft Manor, two American dippers in the Bonaparte River at the Harper Mill subdivision, 239 mallards, three American robins, 51 chukars, a blue heron, a red tail hawk and a rough legged hawk, countless sparrows and Eurasian collared doves, rock doves, juncos, American goldfinches, house finches, a few dozen Bohemian waxwings, 33 Canada geese, assorted mergansers, goldeneyes, woodpeckers and more – all of which will be recorded by the Audobon Society along with the results of the hundreds of other Christmas Bird Counts throughout North America and Europe.