Twenty-six participants and one feeder watcher participated in the 49th Presqu'ile CBC on Sunday Dec. 15, 2013. One intrepid birder suggested weather conditions were a "Cake-walk", at least compared to the count he had done on Saturday. Despite the cake-walk, in common with other locations this weekend, cold conditions, 15-20cm of snow, and unploughed driveways and back roads challenged counters and kept bird numbers low.
69 species were tallied compared to a 20-year average of 79 and the 11,320 individuals was about half that found over most of the past decade. With almost no open water inland and even Lake Ontario with a wide ice edge, waterfowl numbers were down. Only Black Duck and Mallards of the dabblers were recorded and Long-tailed Duck (365), Bufflehead (57) and Common Merganser (2) were at 20-year lows. Inland birds were scarce away from feeders and this was the first count in over 20 years that no Ruffed Grouse were recorded.
Despite conditions there were some surprises and even high counts and birds were wide-spread enough that the common birds seen and recorded in all 10 areas included; Red-tailed Hawk, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, American Tree Sparrow and Dark-eyed Juncos.
New for the count was a Cackling Goose, upgraded from a Count Week bird in 2012.
Other unusual birds included:
- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1) - Only the second in the last 20 years Chipping Sparrow (2) - recorded for the 7th year in the last 20 years.
- Iceland Gull (2) and Glaucous Gull (1) have only been seen in about half the counts in the last 20 years.
- Catbird (1), a Count Week bird, was the first since 1976
High Counts (old records and years in brackets):
- Mute Swan - 824 (624 in 2011)
- Bald Eagle - 8 (6 in 2009)
- Snowy Owl - 10 (7 in 1978) Dark-eyed Junco - 649 (568 in 2011)
Near-record high counts included Northern Harrier (7) and Redbellied Woodpecker (5) that missed tying the record by 1 bird each.
Many thanks to all the participants, especially those that contributed food to the post-count tally and to Maureen Riggs who organizes the whole thing.
David Bree (compiler)
Sr. Natural Heritage Education Leader Presqu'ile Provincial Park