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24177Winter Listing 2012 Version...

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  • gwapple2001
    Dec 1, 2012
      Fellow Birders,

      In spite of one of the worst Novembers in recent memory – altho' mercifully my memory gets shorter as the years to by! – it is almost my favourite time of year, the Christmas bird counts!

      However, a close second is winter bird listing in general, which officially begins today and ends on February 28th. I have been keeping such a list since 1974.

      My all-time Saskatchewan WBL total is now a fairly decent 142 species. The vast majority of these have been found during the CBC count period. However, there have been a few other lost or stray birds that I have been fortunate enough to find as well.

      I never did post my 2011 – 2012 list totals and with your indulgence, have appended it below. I'm sure we all fondly remember last winter, which really was one of the mildest on record. My final WBL total certainly reflected this, as I managed to locate a personal record 82 species!

      This was especially satisfying, as I had finished with 78 species on two previous occasions: 1994-95 and 1999-2000. While I know Mssrs. Dudragne and Sawatzky left me in the dust, I was more than happy to break the magic 80 mark. There may have been other birders ahead of me as well, but I haven't heard of their totals.

      The key to any "big" WBL is a good variety of waterfowl. Last year was rather exceptional. My list got off an amazing start at Gardiner Dam on a Nature S'toon field trip on Dec. 3rd. We ended up finding 31 species, including two birds that I'd never seen before during the period: a Killdeer and a male Yellow-headed Blackbird.

      As if that wasn't enough, two more rarities were present: a pair of White-winged Scoters, as well as a Horned Grebe. Both were only my second WBL observations: I hadn't seen Scoters since the Gardiner Dam CBC on 21 Dec. 1981; the Grebe was also at Gardiner on 6 Dec. 1981.

      As it turned out, the Killdeer, Scoters and Grebe would all be recorded during the Gardiner CBC a couple weeks later.

      The other new all-time WBL species was a pleasant surprise. While perhaps somewhat overdue, a single Red-necked Grebe was also present on the Gardiner count on 19 December. For one of the few times in the history of the CBC, Lake Diefenbaker was open which undoubtedly made it possible for these birds to linger later than usual.

      Another surprise addition to this year's list was a pair of Pied-billed Grebes on Boundary Reservoir during the Estevan CBC on Dec. 30th. Kathy Hedegard was my most capable co-pilot that day. The grebes were only my second WBL sighting. I had recorded a single "Helldiver" swimming on Rafferty Reservoir near Estevan on 5 Dec. 1999.

      With lots of big "hits", also came some very bad "misses". For whatever reason, I could not find some birds that I often pick up during the period: Red-breasted Merganser, Ruffed Grouse (!!!), Prairie Falcon, Glaucous Gull, Great Gray Owl, Cedar Waxwing, Harris' Sparrow, Lapland Longspur, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle and American Goldfinch were some of the more obvious species that managed to elude me. So I know breaking 90 was certainly not out of reach.

      While I still anticipate some "good" birds this time around, I think I'll be happy to maintain my 24-year average of 66.1 species!

      The Cast In Order Of Appearance: 1 Dec. 2011 – 29 Feb. 2012

      1. House Finch
      2. House Sparrow
      3. Rock Pigeon
      4. B-c Chickadee
      5. B-b Magpie
      6. Com. Raven
      7. S-t Grouse
      8. Eur. Starling
      9. Great Horned Owl
      10. Com. Redpoll
      11. D-e Junco
      12. Snowy Owl
      13. Canada Goose
      14. Am. White Pelican
      15. Bald Eagle
      16. Herring Gull
      17. Mallard
      18. KILLDEER
      19. Com. Goldeneye
      20. Lesser Scaup
      22. Com. Merganser
      23. D-c Cormorant
      24. Redhead
      26. Hooded Merganser
      27. Blue Jay
      28. Snow Bunting
      29. Western Grebe
      30. HORNED GREBE
      31. Gadwall
      32. Bufflehead
      33. Canvasback
      34. Am. Wigeon
      35. White-throated Sprw.
      36. Pine Siskin
      37. Downy Wpkr.
      38. Eur. Collared-Dove
      39. Hairy Wpkr.
      40. R-b Nuthatch
      41. Golden Eagle
      42. Bohemian Waxwing
      43. Merlin
      44. Short-eared Owl
      45. Rough-legged Hawk
      46. Horned Lark
      47. Hoary Redpoll
      48. Gray Partridge
      49. Pine Grosbeak
      50. Golden-cr. Kinglet
      51. Am. Robin
      52. N. Flicker
      53. Rusty Bkbd.
      54. Varied Thrush
      55. N. Goshawk
      56. Am. Tree Sprw.
      57. Cackling Goose
      58. Gyrfalcon
      60. Townsend's Solitaire
      61. R-n Pheasant
      62. Ruddy Duck
      63. Ring-necked Duck
      64. Mourning Dove
      65. Am. Coot
      66. N. Pintail
      67. Green-wg. Teal
      69. W-b Nuthatch
      70. Red Crossbill
      71. Brown Creeper
      72. Sharp-shinned Hawk
      73. N. Saw-whet Owl
      74. W-w Crossbill
      75. N. Shrike
      76. N. Hawk-Owl
      77. Boreal Chickadee
      78. Evening Grosbeak
      79. Three-toed Wpkr.
      80. Pileated Wpkr.
      81. Gray Jay
      82. Black-backed Wpkr.