Sunday, February 20, 2011

Great Backyard Bird Count

I participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend, spending several hours on Friday and Saturday along the shores of the Indian River.  It was glorious weather with temperatures near 70.  It was low tide in the afternoon so I was able to walk along the impromptu beach.

Ring-billed Gull
Over the two days, I spotted 19 bird species ranging from the tiny Carolina Chickadee to a graceful Brown Pelican coasting along the river.   Unfortunately, I had my hands full with my binoculars and notepad, so I don't have a lot of great bird photos to share.   But, there were many different birds.   On the water were Canada Geese, Buffleheads, Mallards, a Canvasback, and even a Pied-billed Grebe - the first of that species I've ever recorded.   Ring-billed Gulls hunted along the tidal banks on the opposite shore.  Overhead soared Black Vulture, numerous Crows, and at least two Red-tailed Hawks.   Amongst the trees I picked out Mourning Doves, Blue Jays, Mockingbirds, Cardinals, White-throated Sparrows, and a Red-winged Blackbird.  There was also a Kingfisher along the shoreline.

While not sighted this weekend, a few days ago a Bald Eagle swooped a dozen yards over my head not a block away from the river.  Its great to see this once endangered bird more frequently.   Over the past several weeks I also sighted in the neighborhood Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blue Herons, and our biggest woodpecker, the Pileated Woodpecker - the latter being at Indian River Park.   Those bring my monthly total to 24 species.

The inter-tidal stretch along the shore also had a fair number of Oysters, Mussels, and Clams - both empty shells and living specimens.  Finding these is encouraging since they are filter feeders and as such they help improve the water quality.   That the Oysters are surviving here makes this area a good candidate for additional Oyster Gardening.   While it will still be many years before the water quality improves enough to make these shellfish safe to eat, every step of improvement helps.

There was also a bit of trash along the shore, mostly litter washed into the river.  On my second foray I brought along a trash bag and was able to clean up about a hundred yards of shoreline.   All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days.   The numerous examples of wildlife was very encouraging and wets the appetite for continued improvement in the watershed.

Update Sunday Feb 20: I didn't plan to do any more birding today but there was a figurative storm of birds around or near the bird feeder today.   In 45 minutes I tallied 19 species including Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Cardinals, Chickadees, Crow, Robins, Blue Jay, White-throated Sparrows, Mallards, Gulls, Cormorants, Canada Goose, Mockingbirds, Wood Thrush, Kingfisher, Brown-headed Cowbirds (boo!), Red-winged Blackbirds (a flock of 100 swarmed the feeder), and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (another first for me).   That brought my weekend species count to 25 and monthly species count to 29.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a great weekend counting birds!! I agree with you about the bald eagles. It's a pleasure to frequently see them now compared to 20 years or so ago.


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