December 17, 2005 [LINK]

Christmas Bird Count 2005

Because of a lack of volunteers this year, I had to do my circuit on the Christmas Bird Count alone. I covered the same section of northern Augusta County I did last year (with Mark Adams); see Dec. 19, 2004 blog entry. It was picturesque snow-covered scenery, with varied terrain, including rolling pasturelands, wooded ravines, and river valleys. Like last year, however, it was very cold, and many of the remote country roads were covered with slick ice. All in all, it was a pretty good day of birding, as I saw a total of 36 species -- the same as last year! The highlight was when I got an excellent closeup view of an adult male Yellow-bellied sapsucker, with bright red crown and throat, and an immature one right next to him. I deliberately left my camera at home to save time, and I knew I would probably miss a photo-op such as that one. Here is my complete count for today:

Ironically, the biggest birding achievement of the day came after I returned home. I went for a quick walk behind the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad just before sunset, and sure enough I saw the catbird, which I had last seen (and photographed) on December 6. It is not the first time that a catbird has been sighted during a Christmas Bird Count in this area, but it was still a rare occurrence. The "hardy straggler" probably should be a few hundred miles south of here right now.

Goldfinch set free

Jacqueline let the ailing goldfinch which we gave shelter go free the morning after I brought it inside. The warm air seemed to revive it; I hope it's still doing all right.