Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Bird Count in Four Holes Swamp 2012

All the data sheets for the Monday's 2012 Four Holes Swamp Christmas Bird Count have not been returned to the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest.  However, with 95 species already tallied, we have bested last year's 90 species and are within striking distance of 2010's 100 species.  The species numbers for this year are surprising as the day's weather began with temperatures fluctuating noticeably between warm and cool, continued to cool and began to lightly rain by noon, and ended the birding shortly after 3:00 p.m. with the arrival of heavy rain.

Some bird highlights included 79 Sandhill Cranes flying near Beider Forest; a pair of Bald Eagles perched in a snag overlooking the Holcim Cement quarry; multiple Sharp-shinned Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, and Northern Harriers; Loggerhead Shrikes with prey; Wild Turkey; and over 200 American Pipits.

In addition to the many birds we spotted, we also spied an alligator in a pond deep in the inactive portion of the Holcim Cement quarry.  Although the morning weather could not be classified as wintery, we all agreed it was too cool for a swim.  A few hundred meters away in the swamp, we surprised an animal better suited to be swimming in the cold water.  A large beaver with insulating fur slipped off the bank and swam down the lake away from the Holcim dock.

Thank you to the 32 participants in this year's count and to Argos and Holcim cement companies for access to their properties!  We still had some groups counting more than one section of the count circle, so we could use your help next December for the 114th annual Christmas Bird Count.  The date is tentatively set for December 16, 2013.

Due to the wet weather, we do not have any bird images to show from this year's count, so we will leave you with an image taken two days ago by one of our game cameras.

White-tailed Deer  -  self-portrait
We hope Santa's can account for all of his deer.  We will see you in 2013!

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