Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Bird Count 2011

On Boxing Day I took the day to do an activity with my oldest son Andrew.  He's taken an interest in birds and in the old camera we gave him to use so I hoped that doing the Hamilton Christmas Bird Count (CBC) would be an enjoyable outing together as father and son.  We were invited by Peter Scholtens to join him in the two areas he was given to cover.  I'd never done the CBC before nor really knew what it was.  Every year, for single 24hr period somewhere between Dec 14 and 31st, a count is done of any and all birds seen. Count areas are split up into zones and we walked the area southwest of Clappison's Corners bounded by Hwy5, Rock Chapel, Valley Road, York Road and Hwy 6.  The other area was Globe Park in Hamilton. Apparently a few years ago a Snowy Owl was seen here so it stays on the list of locations to count. :)  The Hamilton CBC area is defined as anywhere within 15miles (or just over 24km) of Dundurn Castle.

A group of 9 of us gathered at Tim's for breakfast to get started.  I had been apprehensive about joining the bird count as I was sure there were going to be some pretty serious birders and I'm both inexperienced and don't consider myself a serious birder.  But the group of definitely experienced guys were more than friendly and willing to share of their knowledge.  Peter had brought his two sons Caleb (he was the one who had solved my Red-tailed Hawk crop mystery) and Jonathan along so that we nice for Andrew who hit it off well with Jonathan who was his age.

I forgot to mention that the morning started with a bang, though I didn't know it till I met up with the gang!  I knew I had seen the silhouette of a largish owl on a hydro wire along Hwy 5 just east of Spencer Creek bridge.  When I mentioned the size and the prominent ear tufts Peter was sure it was a male Great-horned Owl.  That is a pretty exciting find for me. If we hadn't been our way to the bird count I would stopped, dark as it was.

We hiked the Bruce Trail along the escarpment and then went down through the RBG Berry Tract and into the Cartwright tract on the Bruce Duncan Memorial Trail.  As compiled by Peter, here's the list of what we saw and counted there:
Starlings 311
Canada Geese 44
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Crow 14
Ring-billed gull 9
Mourning Dove 1
Northern Cardinal 3
Junco 2
Downy Woodpecker 9
White-breasted Nuthatch 12
Blue Jay 4
Black-capped Chickadee 18
Rock Dove 6
American Goldfinch 49
Eastern Bluebird 26
Red-breasted Woodpecker 2
Red-tailed Hawk 2

The Eastern Bluebirds were the highlight.  Hard to get close enough for a good shot though with a large group. :)  Here is a really bad quality picture cropped to 100%.

Eastern Bluebird - 100% crop

One other interesting shot from here was what a woodpecker or two had done with this stump.

Woodpecker art

We stopped for lunch and took a group picture before splitting up with some of us going onto Globe Park with a few staying to survey some areas we had missed from our first area.

The crazy birders. (I'm on the far left and my son Andrew is in the tan coat.)

We headed off to Globe Park (appropriately named for the large water tank painted as the globe of the earth visible from the QEW just south of the Burlington Street exit.  Here was the list of birds we observed there:
Ring-billed gulls 74
Starling 24
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Mallard 2
Canada Geese 71
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Cardinal 2
Northern Shoveler 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Song Sparrow 1
Mourning Dove 1
We also could see the Red Hill SWM Pond and observed these, though they  were not in our count area:
Canada Geese 20
Red-Tailed Hawk 1
Bufflehead 1
Mallard 14
Starling 2
Kestrel 1

Canada Geese overhead

Canada Goose

Opportunities for great bird photography wasn't at its highest, but I had a great time learning a lot about birds and many other items from the other birders.  I certainly saw a lot of birds I wouldn't normally, being at the sides of experts. Thanks for letting a rookie join you!

Andrew was still game to stop by Bayfront Park to see if any of the warblers were still there so we "popped" in there.  I'll post some pictures from here in the near future.


  1. Cool, Bri. What an interesting thing to do! This is a neat hobby!

  2. Cool! Great that you can get Andrew involved in your interests too!

  3. very nice thing to do with your son Brian and joining some experts along the way....


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