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January 1, 2013 was the trial run of the Rice Lake Plains Christmas Bird Count. This is a new count that will be submitted to the National Audubon Society in hopes of becoming an official Audubon Christmas Bird Count next year. The Rice Lake Plains count circle covers much the same area as the Summer Bird Count Circle. The Summer Bird Count circle had to be shifted somewhat to the north-east to avoid overlap with the Port Hope-Cobourg circle.

Twenty-one observers, who obviously had not had enough Christmas Bird counting, enjoyed a real winter’s day. The sky was clear, with a 20 km wind, and a temperature that hovered around –10ºC. All day. All still water was frozen and there was about 10 to 20 cm. of snow cover. There were five feeder counters as well.

Because the lakes, ponds and marshes were all frozen, there were almost no water-birds. One party did see a couple of fly-over Herring Gulls.

Despite the lack of open water, there were many highlights:

  • Seven species of hawks, including Northern Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Rough-legged Hawk and Merlin
  • Three Ring-necked Pheasants, but only 2 Ruffed Grouse
  • One Eastern Screech Owl and two Barred Owls
  • Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers
  • 21 Common Ravens
  • 18 Eastern Bluebirds
  • One Northern Mockingbird
  • One Chipping Sparrow and one White-throated Sparrow
  • Nine Lapland Longspurs and 824 Snow Buntings
  • Seven species of finches, including 47 Pine Grosbeaks, 17 White-winged Crossbills, 710 Common Redpolls, 35 Pine Siskins and 16 Evening Grosbeaks

In total, there were 6,042 birds of 50 species counted.

Many of the observers met back at the Alderville Black Oak Savanna Nature Centre for homemade soup and bread and to tally the results.

Thank you to all of the participants for going to bed early on New Year’s Eve. Also thanks to the Alderville First Nation and ABOS staff for allowing us the use of the Nature Centre (and plowing the driveway and parking lot!) Thank you to the Nature Conservancy of Canada for their support. Thank you to Elizabeth Kellogg for providing the soup, bread and drinks.

Roger Frost

 To view a summary of the 2013 report click on the link below:

pdf icon2013 RLP CBC