Tom's Blog

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas bird count

Yesterday Kathie, Susan, and I did the annual Audubon Christmas bird count at Pleasant Valley Conservancy. This is the 112th annual Christmas bird count run by the National Audubon Society, which this year ran from December 14, 2011 through January 5, 2012. The count in our area was held on January 1 (New Year's Day).

This is about the 10th year that the count has been held at Pleasant Valley Conservancy. Every year the weather is different. One year the roads were sheets of ice, another year there was a foot of snow. This year there was no snow at all and we could drive up to the top of our service road with no difficulty. However, there was a heavy wind (around 25 mph from WNW), so we did the whole count from our car. It really worked well. I drove and Kathie and Susan counted the birds. We were able to creep along with the windows open, the heater on, and the engine close to idle. After climbing to the top, we started at the East Basin and drove slowly all the way to the west end of the ridge along the service road. Then we took the side road to the Rocky Overlook. Finally, we drove slowly along the whole length of Pleasant Valley Road. We spent about 2 hours counting birds.

Because of the strong wind, most of the birds were hunkered down, so our count was pretty low. However, we did see a bald eagle, a red-headed woodpecker, two hairy woodpeckers, a tufted titmouse, a nuthatch, some chickadees, a large "vee" of Canada geese, and 11 turkeys, plus the usual collection of crows and junkos.

The bird count is organized by "circles", each centered on a city. There are 15 circles in Wisconsin, and anyone can participate. See this link for details.


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