The day started inauspiciously with a pre-dawn sheet of ice on the roads. It was treacherous enough that some groups didn’t venture out, or began counting later in the morning, after the salt trucks had done their work. Temperatures hovered around the mid-20’s most of the day with a fairly steady northwest breeze. Jim Peoples’ group began owling at 05:30 and I started out a bit later at 06:10. The owls seem to have thought better of responding to our audio lures, and for the first year in recent memory we didn’t get any owls before dawn. Later in the day the Delaware City team (Megan Shoemaker, Chris Harvey, and Geoff and Amy Winningham) found a Great Horned Owl. I added two more GHOW (duetting pair) on my way home from the compilation gathering.
Most teams had a reasonable variety of birds, but relatively low numbers. Some standout finds were flocks of Snow Buntings (see photo) located by Dan Bobb’s “Western Shores” team (Dan Yaussy, Silas and Todd Jolliff and David Johnson) and by Ben Warner’s “Western Croplands” team (Lauren Blyth). Ben and Lauren also found a Wilson’s Snipe and a flock of 25 Sandhill Cranes. The “Eastern Shores North” team (Dan and Colleen Fink, Ramon Carreno, Holly Latteman) also found a smaller flock of four cranes. This is only the second time in our count’s history that cranes were detected. Most still water was frozen, but some moving water was open. We managed to tally seven species of waterfowl including a Ring-necked Duck (Ben Warner’s team), only the sixth year with this species. Ben and Lauren also located both Pied-billed and Horned Grebes (one each). We tallied by far the most Canada Geese ever (5,363), well above the previous high of 2,731 back in 2009.
Woodpecker numbers were good this year, including all the regular species except Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. We had a record high number of Hairy Woodpeckers. One notable find was a lone Ruby-crowned Kinglet found by Adriana Losey and the “Whetstone Wetlands” team (Kyle, Donald and Karyn Davis, Clint Johnson, Maria Losey and Dustin Reichard). This is a very sparse winter visitor in Central Ohio and a good find. We have had only six other reports on our 29 year count history. Other notables included: a Winter Wren found by Randy Zibell’s “Northwest Plains” group (Dan Lux, Tania Perry); Fox Sparrows found by two teams; and, a flock of ten Field Sparrows seen by Dan Bobb’s “Western Shores” team (see photo). The same team also found a lone Rusty Blackbird (see photo). My “Alum-Creek/Bohannan” team (Chris Roshan, Amy Tovar and Bob Klips) found a single Eastern Towhee. It was a beautiful male calling near where we parked the car in the morning. It was if he wanted to be sure he was counted.
Considering the icy conditions early and chilly weather we had a successful count. The total of 70 species is the fourth highest total for our count. I want to personally thank all of the participants for their dedication and careful observation. Of course no Delaware CBC would be complete without the Horned Lark award presentation; at the compilation gathering Adriana Losey’s guess (115) was judged the closest and she was named the award winner this year. After the final reports were added over the next couple of days, we tallied a moderately low number (325) of larks. I hope you will all join us next year!
|Species||Totals||Birds/ Party Hour||Mean||Comment|
|Great Blue Heron||27||0.39||23.28|
|American Black Duck||4||0.06||14.07|
|Rock Pigeon||25||0.36||223.45||very low|
|Great Horned Owl||3||0.04||3.59|
|American Tree Sparrow||814||11.81||383.24||high|
|Purple Finch||count week||0.64|
Total Individuals: 11687 (slightly below average)
Total Party Hours: 68.95 (well below recent average)
Total Party Miles: 291.7 (about normal)
Hours driving: 34
Hours walking: 35
Miles driving: 256.8
Miles walking: 35
Owling Hours: 1.4
Owling miles: 16
Participants: 27 (well below average)