My Christmas Bird Count

My participation in the 114th annual Christmas Bird Count begins at 5:00 a.m. when we meet to search for owls.  It’s the coldest day of the season so far at 20º with a chilly wind.  There are six of us this year.  We pile into two cars and go to locations where owls have been seen recently, to play a recording of their calls and listen for responses.  As we get out, two of our number see a shooting star (not me) and we cheer this good omen.  We locate six owls, 4 screech, 1 barred and 1 great horned owl.  At dawn we take a break for breakfast at a nearby diner (same table and waitress every year).

Intrepid Birders, Binoculars Up

  After filling up, we’re out to search for songbirds, waterfowl, hawks, eagles and any other birds we can find.  We have a designated search area, part of a 30 mile circle known as the Westport/Weston count area.  The sun is up and we are brimming with enthusiasm.  We gradually add to our list of birds; Hooded Megansers, Buffleheads, Robins… with the highlight for us being an adult Northern Goshawk floating ghostlike, just over our heads.  We bird until late afternoon, a great day with good friends and locate about 42 species.  This total is lower than other years when we have found an average closer to 60 species but this is the first very cold day of the season and we hypothesize that the birds are laying low, out of the wind.

I bring chili to the potluck dinner which is held at Connecticut Audubon’s Birdcraft Museum.  Here all participants are invited to share the day’s experiences and the official tally for our entire count circle is recorded.  We have tallied 107 species in all with my group contributing about 42 of them.   I’ll give the chili recipe in my next post.


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