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This And That...

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  • gwapple2001
    Fellow Birders, First of all, a message to my pal Dan. Amen Brother! This is indeed a humbling hobby and that s why we continue to get educated from time
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 28, 2012
      Fellow Birders,

      First of all, a message to my pal Dan. Amen Brother! This is indeed a humbling hobby and that's why we continue to get "educated" from time to time!

      Also Gabriel was wondering a few days ago about Gray-crowned Rosy Finches. As my esteemed friend Al mentioned (with Bob L. expounding further on the subject), we did indeed find them regularly on the Fort Walsh CBC in the Cypress Hills.

      We started the count waaay back in 1976 and I officially "retired" from the proceedings 30 years later in 2005. My friends Sheila and Val intended on carrying on the tradition, but were unable to do so. The count was discontinued in 2006, but they managed to get another CBC done in 2007. That was the last year. Distance, time constraints and age have become our enemy!

      Out of 31 total counts, we were able to find Rosy's on 18 of them, a not quite 60% clip. Numbers varied from 1 (1978 and 1989) up to 488 (1983) individuals. Of course, like any species, they were never "guaranteed"! However, we did have a few "streaks", often followed by a two to four year `gap' until the next occurrence. Our longest stretch was the 7 consecutive years from 1983 to 1989. The last time they showed up was in 2001, when we had 21 birds.

      As Bob mentioned, while a trip to Cypress in early winter is still probably the best place to try and find this lovely bird, there are certain ranchers that are very protective of their land, and do NOT want you trespassing. And please, if you ever head down that way, DO respect their signs and privacy. Ask for permission to look around. Otherwise, you may be in for trouble! We were able to win over a few land owners to our side. However, in the early years of making contacts, some flat out said "no and don't come back!" So we didn't!!!

      Somewhat surprisingly, my "life" sighting of a GCRF wasn't from Cypress! We were most fortunate to have one visit our backyard bird feeder in Biggar on 22 Jan. 1974.

      However, one of my most enduring CBC memories over the course of the 251 I have now done was on the very first Fort Walsh count. It was 31 December 1976. I've sort of told this story earlier, but this is sort of Part 2.

      The Renaud boys, Wayne and Don, plus yours truly were in Wayne's new Fiat. Sheila Lamont and Wayne Harris had travelled behind us in their car. After an aborted Gardiner Dam count, and a short, but sweet Gull Lake CBC---done in an impromptu fashion---we had arrived safe and sound the night before in Maple Creek. Ken Lumbis and Bob Godwin drove down in Ken's Jeep and joined us at the motel later that night.

      It snowed all night and by morning, there was quite an accumulation. After finding our way down to the "new" count, there was even more snow in "The Hills"!!! Needless to say, it was a bit of a struggle through the still-basically-unknown circle in Wayne's little car!

      In the early afternoon, they dropped me off at the entrance to a ranch yard, and said they'd pick me up in about a half an hour. The road paralleled a creek bottom, with the house about 200 metres distant. I began birding/walking towards it. As I reached the yard, my attention was drawn towards a weedy hillside just east and behind the house. It was full of birds, but first I knocked on the door and introduced myself to Laura and Graham Parsonage. To this day, they were two of the nicest people I have ever met!

      After talking for a few minutes and getting the OK to look around, I went to check out the birds. Imagine my surprise and delight to find that the flock turned out to be a marvelous flock of 140 Gray-crowned's! The image of those beautiful finches slowly working their way through the weeds on that snowy hillside is one of my most enduring birding memories!!!

      Enjoy "Leap Day" tomorrow everyone. Sadly my list will have to be from the train during the night as duty calls towards midnight as usual!!!…

      Cheers,

      Guy,
      S'toon
    • Gabriel
      Thanks so much guys, for the detailed answers to my finch questions. I am completely shocked that rosy-finches occurred here in flocks of that magnitude! The
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 1, 2012
        Thanks so much guys, for the detailed answers to my finch questions. I am completely shocked that rosy-finches occurred here in flocks of that magnitude! The understanding I had previously was that, while irruptive, the sightings were usually solitary and limited to just a few per year. Sounds like you just have to hit the right year in the right spot!
        Gabriel
        Regina

        --- In Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com, "gwapple2001" <gswap@...> wrote:
        >
        > Fellow Birders,
        >
        > First of all, a message to my pal Dan. Amen Brother! This is indeed a humbling hobby and that's why we continue to get "educated" from time to time!
        >
        > Also Gabriel was wondering a few days ago about Gray-crowned Rosy Finches. As my esteemed friend Al mentioned (with Bob L. expounding further on the subject), we did indeed find them regularly on the Fort Walsh CBC in the Cypress Hills.
        >
        > We started the count waaay back in 1976 and I officially "retired" from the proceedings 30 years later in 2005. My friends Sheila and Val intended on carrying on the tradition, but were unable to do so. The count was discontinued in 2006, but they managed to get another CBC done in 2007. That was the last year. Distance, time constraints and age have become our enemy!
        >
        > Out of 31 total counts, we were able to find Rosy's on 18 of them, a not quite 60% clip. Numbers varied from 1 (1978 and 1989) up to 488 (1983) individuals. Of course, like any species, they were never "guaranteed"! However, we did have a few "streaks", often followed by a two to four year `gap' until the next occurrence. Our longest stretch was the 7 consecutive years from 1983 to 1989. The last time they showed up was in 2001, when we had 21 birds.
        >
        > As Bob mentioned, while a trip to Cypress in early winter is still probably the best place to try and find this lovely bird, there are certain ranchers that are very protective of their land, and do NOT want you trespassing. And please, if you ever head down that way, DO respect their signs and privacy. Ask for permission to look around. Otherwise, you may be in for trouble! We were able to win over a few land owners to our side. However, in the early years of making contacts, some flat out said "no and don't come back!" So we didn't!!!
        >
        > Somewhat surprisingly, my "life" sighting of a GCRF wasn't from Cypress! We were most fortunate to have one visit our backyard bird feeder in Biggar on 22 Jan. 1974.
        >
        > However, one of my most enduring CBC memories over the course of the 251 I have now done was on the very first Fort Walsh count. It was 31 December 1976. I've sort of told this story earlier, but this is sort of Part 2.
        >
        > The Renaud boys, Wayne and Don, plus yours truly were in Wayne's new Fiat. Sheila Lamont and Wayne Harris had travelled behind us in their car. After an aborted Gardiner Dam count, and a short, but sweet Gull Lake CBC---done in an impromptu fashion---we had arrived safe and sound the night before in Maple Creek. Ken Lumbis and Bob Godwin drove down in Ken's Jeep and joined us at the motel later that night.
        >
        > It snowed all night and by morning, there was quite an accumulation. After finding our way down to the "new" count, there was even more snow in "The Hills"!!! Needless to say, it was a bit of a struggle through the still-basically-unknown circle in Wayne's little car!
        >
        > In the early afternoon, they dropped me off at the entrance to a ranch yard, and said they'd pick me up in about a half an hour. The road paralleled a creek bottom, with the house about 200 metres distant. I began birding/walking towards it. As I reached the yard, my attention was drawn towards a weedy hillside just east and behind the house. It was full of birds, but first I knocked on the door and introduced myself to Laura and Graham Parsonage. To this day, they were two of the nicest people I have ever met!
        >
        > After talking for a few minutes and getting the OK to look around, I went to check out the birds. Imagine my surprise and delight to find that the flock turned out to be a marvelous flock of 140 Gray-crowned's! The image of those beautiful finches slowly working their way through the weeds on that snowy hillside is one of my most enduring birding memories!!!
        >
        > Enjoy "Leap Day" tomorrow everyone. Sadly my list will have to be from the train during the night as duty calls towards midnight as usual!!!…
        >
        > Cheers,
        >
        > Guy,
        > S'toon
        >
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