A lone Great gray owl was spotted in our region in 2015.

Christmas bird count is coming

The annual event is an opportunity for some fresh-air fun while performing a valuable service.

The Ashcroft-Cache Creek Christmas bird count will be taking place on Wednesday, December 21; and anyone interested in taking an inventory of our feathered friends in the area is encouraged to take part in the annual tradition, now in its 11th year.

“Nancy Josephson started the count,” says organizer Wendy Coomber, who notes that Christmas bird counts are a longstanding tradition that began in England more than a century ago. They now take place around the world between December 14 and January 5, and provide a snapshot of the winter bird population in different locations across the globe.

In this area, pairs of volunteers under the supervision of expert birder Karl Ricker from Whistler spread out in and around Ashcroft and Cache Creek, covering the area south to Venables Valley Road, north to the Bonaparte Reserve, and east to Back Valley Road.

Coomber says that participants do not have to be avian experts in order to take part. An inexperienced birder is paired with a more experienced person, and the pairs go out armed with birding books, binoculars, and cameras in order to identify what type of birds they spot and how many there are.

Ricker—who attends a number of bird counts in the region—then compiles the statistics and sends them to Bird Studies Canada, which posts the results on their website (http://www.birdscanada.org/index.jsp). The site notes that birds are excellent indicators of how the environment is doing, and Coomber says that amateur bird counters are a key factor in tracking bird population trends.

For example, count results going back to 2005 show that the Eurasian collared dove was first counted in the area in 2010, when 17 were spotted during the annual count. They have been counted every year since, with 187 spotted in 2015. No Pine grosbeaks were counted in the area until last year, when 23 were spotted.

The Eurasian collared dove. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Counters in the area usually spot between 3,000 and 5,000 birds during the course of the day. Last year the most commonly spotted birds were European starlings (571), Bohemian waxwings (476), Canada geese (363), and Rock pigeons (267).

“Every year we get something odd,” says Coomber. Last year it was a Great gray owl, with one lone bird putting the species on the local map for the first time. In both 2014 and 2015 there were unusually high numbers of Canada geese spotted. “It’s not unusual to see them, but there were so many of them.”

Balancing that out is the fact that in 2015, counters did not spot a single Chukar partridge. “We should be seeing chukars at that time of year,” says Coomber. “We could hear them, and spot their tracks in the snow, but we didn’t see them. It’s just the luck of the day.”

She adds that the closure of the Cache Creek landfill will probably have an effect on this year’s bird count, especially with the Bald eagle population. “The landfill is still open, but there’s not much up there. It’s a very, very small area where they’re collecting garbage now.”

More people are always needed for the annual count, which Coomber says is a fun way to get some fresh air, meet other birders, and add the names of our communities to worldwide bird counts. For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer, contact Coomber at (250) 457-9587.

 

Just Posted

Local Liberal MP Jati Sidhu says he forgives Trudeau for brownface photos

Sidhu says Trudeau ‘didn’t know any better’ and that photos will prompt discussion

Local Liberal candidate says ad showing him with Abbotsford police officer was ‘not acceptable’

Jati Sidhu said advertisement only appeared for 30 minutes and was created by Montreal company

Cache Creek councillor has committee appointments rescinded

Council also presented with need for roof repairs to Cache Creek fire hall

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

HUB Online Network finding its feet, documenting the region

New venture already has nearly three dozen videos up on YouTube channel

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

‘I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,’ Trudeau said Friday

Most Read