Thousands of wild birds in the Seneca Christmas Bird Count. — Unlike last year the Sunday of the Seneca Christmas Bird Count (CBC) dawned bright, sunny and kind of cold. On the 19th of December twenty birdwatchers from the Montgomery County Bird Club (MCBC) and BCC-IWLA gathered early at the chapter house to organize the Sector 7 part of the Seneca CBC. Before the day was over, they had walked over twenty-five miles, driven nearly 45 miles, and counted more than 2,875 wild birds of 65 species. And, this is only one small sector of the fifteen-mile circle that makes up the Seneca CBC.
CBCs are designed to count all of the birds seen within a 15-mile circle. There are several CBCs in our area but the Seneca CBC is literally right in our back yard. In fact, Sector 7 of the Seneca CBC includes our farm. In the past the MCBC, which manages the Seneca count, has met on the corner of River Road and West Willard Way on the morning of the count to get organized and divide the workload. This year they met at our chapter house for coffee, donuts and warmth before they went afield.
The IWLA Chapter farm contributed several species to the final sector list, including a flock of seven Tundra Swan seen flying over the IWLA, a flock of 40 Wild Turkeys seen in the West Woods, and some unusual species seen at the winter bird feeders outside the south windows. To our surprise, seven Purple Finches spent the day shuttling between the feeders and a Large Sycamore behind the log cabin. The expected House Finches did not show up at the IWLA feeders.
This was a good year for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a species featured recently on the Chapter website. The birders saw a Black-capped Chickadee in addition to the expected Carolina Chickadees (110). There has been an irruption of far north birds this fall and winter into our area. Red-breasted Nuthatch, Common Raven, and Horned Lark were also unexpected observations.
So, in the next few weeks until blessed spring comes back to Maryland, stop and watch the birds at the feeders. You never know what you will see. And, take a look at the MCBC website for a list of MCBC field trips coming up. We hope to invite MCBC back for a bird walk again this spring.
-TATE 25 Dec. 2010