2014 Christmas Bird Count Summary
by Don Henise
Don's full blog with pictures, of course, available here
The 46th annual Waterloo Recreation Area Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday, December 20th. Twenty-three participants in ten groups combed the count circle throughout the day, counting all the birds that they encountered. A day with no precipitation and no wind made for a comfortable day for the birders who were able to count a total of 64 species.
Highlights from the day included two species never recorded in the 45 previous years of the count. At Portage Lake, a group of nine White-winged Scoters were found independently by Allen King and Joyce Peterson. Gary Siegrist found at least two Virginia Rails in the Waterloo Marsh off of Riethmiller Road. The scoters, common on the great lakes, are quite rare inland. Virginia Rails are regular breeders in the Waterloo Marsh, but have usually migrated south way before December.
Partially opened water enabled the counters to record a number of waterfowl species. In addition to the normal Canada Geese, Mute Swan, and Mallards, other waterfowl tallied were 1 Tundra Swan, 1Wood Duck, 8 Ring-necked Ducks, 1 Bufflehead, 9 Common Goldeneyes, and 24 Common Mergansers. Two adult Bald Eagleswere at Portage Lake, one of them made a low pass over the scoters, causing all 9 of them to dive underwater to escape.
While many of us were viewing the scoters from the Portage Lake boat launch, a lone swan was sleeping on the ice with a group of Canada Geese. Because its head was tucked at the time, we were not able to identify it to species. Ross Green was able to photograph it a little while later when it stood up as the flock of geese flew off, confirming that it was a Tundra Swan.
A few other notable birds tallied were 2 Rough-legged Hawks, 1Barred Owl, 1 Short-eared Owl, 5 Red-headed Woodpeckers, 1Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 5 Pileated Woodpeckers, 1 Northern Shrike, 1 Northern Mockingbird, 1 Common Grackle, and 39 Pine Siskins.
Thanks to all who participated and helped make the count a success. Mark your calendars!! The 2015 Waterloo Rec Area CBC will be held on December 19th.
Canada Goose 912
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
Downy Woodpecker 103
Northern Shrike 1
Blue Jay 237