by Chris Bell, count compiler
GORE BAY—A total of 4,324 birds of 52 species were seen in the 48th annual Christmas Bird Count at Gore Bay on December 20, 2016. Counts are judged by the number of different bird species found, and this was the best count here for a long time. The 52 species this year far exceeded the 42 last year, and was the best total since 1999.
Thirty-four feeder watchers and 11 birders took part this year. The count was again sponsored by the Terence Land Law Office.
The weather on count day was favourable, one degree with snow not falling.
December temperatures had been record-breaking high and there was no ice on the lakes on the day of the count. Many Northern ducks had put off migrating south and stayed here both in Gore Bay and the Campbell Bay-Wolsey Lake waters.
Canvasbacks, uncommon large handsome diving ducks, were new for the Gore Bay count. Redheads, another diving duck, had only been seen on one previous count.
The 45 bald eagles was a record. This year, rough-legged hawks have arrived from the north and 14 were seen. Bohemian waxwings and Northern shrikes were other winter visitors.
Sightings of wintering sparrows such as tree sparrows and dark-eyed Juncos were down. The sparrows may well be here and will move to the feeders once the snow comes. Two white-crowned sparrows were at a Gore Bay feeder. No blackbirds were found except for a group of three grackles.
The 34 feeder-watchers reported slightly lower numbers of mourning doves, hairy woodpeckers, blue jays and chickadees, but a higher number of downy woodpeckers and red-breasted nuthatches. Cardinals are always a favourite but were found at only eight feeders this year. American goldfinches were visiting many bird feeders but the other finches were very scarce.
There were several outstanding feeder bird lists. Cathy Simmons and Bill Robinson of Gore Bay win the prize this year for the most successful feeder.
The full list of birds seen follows: 32 black duck, 165 mallard, eight canvasback, four redhead, 101 lesser scaup, one long-tailed duck, 26 bufflehead, 438 common goldeneye, 23 hooded merganser, 920 common merganser, one red-breasted merganser, 36 ring-necked pheasant, seven ruffed grouse, 16 sharp-tailed grouse, one horned grebe, four red-necked grebe, 45 bald eagle, three northern harrier, 14 rough-legged hawk, six ring-billed gull, 482 herring gull, three great black-backed gull, 64 rock pigeon, 70 mourning dove, one great horned owl, one belted kingfisher, five red-bellied woodpecker, 37 downy woodpecker, 42 hairy woodpecker, eight pileated woodpecker, four northern shrike, 263 blue Jay, 135 American crow, 155 common raven, 260 black-capped chickadee, 38 red-breasted nuthatch, 34 white-breasted nuthatch, three golden-crowned kinglet, 241 European starling, 214 bohemian waxwing, 62 snow bunting, five American tree sparrow, one white-throated sparrow, two white-crowned sparrow, one dark-eyed junco, 16 northern cardinal, three common grackle, five purple finch, two common redpoll, 20 pine siskin, 211 American goldfinch and 85 house sparrow.