I finally got to do a Christmas bird count this year!! After many scheduling conflicts, cancellations and postponements, today I finally ran my only CBC for the year.
The Kickapoo valley CBC is centered just north of the town of Ontario in Vernon County WI.
My section was the far Southeast part between Hwy 33, County P and County V, including Wildcat Mountain SP.
I started off at 8:30am (a bit later than I wanted to). The sky was clear, the winds (at least at first) were calm and there was roughly 12" of snow on the ground. As the day wore on, the wind picked up to about 15-25Mph during the day.
A nice Belted Kingfisher at 8:35am brought my second species for the count and an excellent start to a beautiful day.
Dark-eyed Juncos were out and about in the hundreds (I mean this literally). I wasn't sure if I was going to get Mourning Dove until, around midday, I spotted 9 of them, all tucked away on a log trying to hide from me. Ha! I showed them that they can't!
Wild Turkeys seem to have been on the decline in recent years. I found only 7 in one flock.
House Sparrow was the second most numerous bird. Don't try and tell me that they're declining! lol After them was Am Crow.
Only 2 Tufted Titmice showed up. Both at the same feeder (I think some of mine need to head north a little farther).
A pleasant surprise was the finding of only 16 Starlings! I remember some years where we would count 160 in one flock.
Another surprise was a quick glimpse of a rather far away N Shrike. Only to be outdone an hour later with spectacular views of another individual.
A surprising miss was Am Robin, along with all the other members of the thrush family.
The only finches around were Goldfinches. House and Purple finches were nowhere to be seen.
There had been Crossbills reported in that area before. I still haven't figured out where. I certainly didn't see any. There goes my last hope of putting 2 more species on my year list this year.
Another interesting miss were Song and Swamp Sparrows. Although, the snow was pretty deep so I'm not entirely surprised.
Below is a paste of my ebird report for the day, including all the times, distances and all the birds we saw:
Location: Kickapoo valley CBC: SE Section
Observation date: 12/29/08
Notes: All seen within the Southeast section of the Kickapoo CBC (HIghway 33 on the south, County P on the north, County V on the east).
Start time: 0830 (a bit late)
Starting Temp: 27
Mileage: set to 0.
End Time: 1500
End Temp: 35
Sky: Mostly Sunny
Wind: W @ 10-20MPH
Total Miles driven: 100
Total miles walked: 0
Total Miles: 100
Total hours in the field: 6.5
Number of species: 26
Ring-necked Pheasant - Phasianus colchicus 2
Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo 7
Bald Eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus 3
Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis 8
Rough-legged Hawk - Buteo lagopus 1
American Kestrel - Falco sparverius 2
Rock Pigeon - Columba livia 125
Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura 11
Belted Kingfisher - Megaceryle alcyon 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker - Melanerpes carolinus 4
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens 11
Hairy Woodpecker - Picoides villosus 3
Northern Flicker - Colaptes auratus 1
Northern Shrike - Lanius excubitor 2
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata 24
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos 96
Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris 7
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus 55
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor 2
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis 8
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris 16
American Tree Sparrow - Spizella arborea 16
Dark-eyed Junco - Junco hyemalis 296
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis 8
American Goldfinch - Carduelis tristis 30
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus 129