[Tweeters] Sequim-Dungeness CBC results

Bob and Barb Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Fri Dec 28 19:26:46 PST 2007

Hello, Tweeters,

The final tallies for the Sequim-Dungeness Christmas Bird Count, held
on Dec. 17th, are done!! A total of 87 stalwart observers and 24
patient feeder watchers contributed to our count this year, which
provided some new records but also some curious puzzles.

After careful checking and requests for details, the count ended up
with 150 species this year, which we believe is the highest ever
recorded on a CBC in WA. Individual birds numbered 69,602, which is
substantially lower than our all-time high count of 81,325, recorded
just last year. The most abundant species this year was Am. Wigeon
(12,351), followed in the top 10 by Mallard (11,855), Pine Siskin
(6196!!), N. Pintail (4985), Dunlin (2558), Am. Robin (2204), Dark-
eyed Junco (1816), Eur. Starling (1801), Olympic Gull/Glaucous-winged
Gull (1766), and Brewer's Blackbird (1757). These 10 species
comprised about two-thirds of all the birds seen on our count. A
total of 41 species tallied 5 individuals or fewer.

High counts for the 32-year history of our count occurred for the
following species:
-- Gadwall (153) -- this species continues its long-term increase in
the coastal ponds and waterways around the Dungeness and Sequim areas.
-- Common Merganser (87)
-- Downy Woodpecker (48)
-- Golden-crowned Sparrow (571)
-- Red Crossbill (422)
-- Pine Siskin (6196) -- it was a great year for some eruptive
-- Am. Goldfinch (73)

Low counts for the past 10-30 years of our count occurred for the
following species, despite the fact that there are many more
observers and better coverage of our circle these days:
-- Com. Loon (25) - lowest since 1983
-- Canada Goose (264) - lowest since 1992
-- Com. Goldeneye (291) - lowest since 1979
-- Hooded Merganser (43) - lowest since 1993
-- Red-breasted Merganser (352) - lowest since 1997
-- Marsh Wren (40) - lowest since 1997
-- Song Sparrow (403) - lowest since 1994

Several other species came in with counts below long-term averages,
including N. Shoveler, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Bufflehead,
Barrow's Goldeneye, Red-throated Loon, Horned and Red-necked Grebes,
Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants, Great Blue Heron, Am. Coot,
Mew Gull, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Savannah Sparrow, and Red-winged
Blackbird. It will be interesting to see how these species do on
other CBCs, as most of these decreases appear real this year, rather
than artifacts of uneven coverage between years or missed birds.
Perhaps the blustery, cool weather in the first half of December had
something to do with lower numbers, causing the birds to die or go
elsewhere, or it could be related to the long-term decreases that
many of these species show in coastal WA., particularly the water birds.

Conversely, many typically uncommon species cooperated very well this
year -- the only "misses" of species we usually hope for were
Bonaparte's Gull and Evening Grosbeak, and we saw grosbeaks later
during count week.

Unusual species for our count included:
-- N. Fulmar (2), Short-tailed Shearwater (1), and Yellow-billed
Loons (4) observed by our boat party in waters between Protection
Island and Dungeness Bay.
-- Long-billed Curlew (1), Ruddy Turnstone (1), Long-billed
Dowitchers (16), Horned Larks (3), and Lapland Longspurs (2) observed
on Dungeness Spit.
-- Eurasian Collared-Doves (4) observed at 2 different backyards in
Sequim and Dungeness. They're here for good.
-- Blue-winged Teal, Am. Bittern, and Loggerhead Shrike observed at
Graysmarsh, along with Sora calling where it has been for 9 of the
last 12 years.
-- Townsend's Solitaire observed at Dungeness Recreation Area.
-- Common Redpoll observed near the Dungeness Rec Area, visiting a
feeder with a flock of Pine Siskins (among other interesting details,
the observer's nifty description says "it was the size of a siskin,
with a light bill, looking like a bowl of custard with a cherry on
-- Least Sandpiper at Jamestown
-- Ruddy Duck at Kitchen-Dick Ponds, where they have bred the last
two years.
-- Wild Turkey (4) in the riparian forest by the Dungeness River,
where they have bred for the last two springs.

Owl numbers were reassuringly strong, rewarding nearly 12 owling
hours by 5 parties with 7 Barn Owls, 5 W. Screech-Owls, 6 Great
Horned Owls, 4 N. Pygmy Owls, 2 Short-eared Owls, and 3 N. Saw-whet
Owls. Curiously, no Barred Owls, who must have taken the night off.

Lastly, everyone will be interested to know that Starling numbers
have dropped as well, with Starlings showing the lowest number on our
count since 1991, and the fourth lowest number since 1978, even
though the number of observers is much higher now than in the early

How do these trends compare with other CBCs?

Bob Boekelheide

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