by Bob Boekelheide
The final tallies for this year’s Sequim-Dungeness Christmas Bird Count, held on Dec. 15, 2008, are all finished. A total of 91 field observers and 43 feeder watchers contributed to our count this year. The weather was the worst it has been on the Sequim count in a long time, with snow all around, temperatures ranging between 19 and 31 degrees, and a cold north wind gusting 20 to 35 mph for all coastal routes.
Our count ended up with 139 species this year, our lowest species count for the last 10 years. Individual birds numbered 53,913, which is substantially lower than our all-time high count of 81,325, recorded in 2006. The most abundant species this year was Am. Wigeon (12,418), followed in the top 10 by Mallard (3176), N. Pintail (2818), OlympicGull/ Glaucous-winged Gull (2501), European Starling (2294), Am. Robin (2045), Brant (2007), Dark-eyed Junco (1929), Brewer's Blackbird (1770), and Pine Siskin (1423). These 10 species comprised about 60 percent of all the birds seen on our count. A total of 34 species tallied 5 individuals or fewer.
Unusual species for our count included:
Cattle Egret -- observed and photographed by Doug and Pipper Watkins at Jamestown
Rough-legged Hawk -- observed by Scott Atkinson at Graysmarsh
Western Bluebird -- eight young birds still hanging around where they fledged earlier this year at Sara Blake’s house on the east side of Sequim
Yellow-headed Blackbird (1) -- observed by Bob Boekelheide at Olympic Game Farm
Species that recorded high tallies for our count:
Brant -- second highest count for the last 33 years
Trumpeter Swan -– highest count ever, even corrected for possible multiple sightings
Bald Eagle – tied the highest count ever, even corrected for possible multiple sightings
Killdeer -- fourth highest for the last 33 years
Wilson's Snipe -- third highest for the last 33 years
Eurasian Collared-Dove -- continuing to increase!
Barred Owl -- hooting by Sequim Bay
Anna's Hummingbird -- highest ever
Am. Pipit -- highest ever, most seen near Washington Harbor
Orange-crowned Warbler -- tied high count
Fox Sparrow -- highest ever
Song Sparrow -- highest ever
Lincoln's Sparrow -- highest ever
White-throated Sparrow -- tied high count
Golden-crowned Sparrow -- highest ever
Dark-eyed Junco -- second highest ever
Low counts occurred for the following species (The wild coastal weather and frozen inshore ponds certainly contributed to some of these numbers, but several, such as the loons and grebes, are in the midst of long-term declines throughout western Washington):
Pacific Loon -- lowest since 1994
Common Loon -- second lowest in 33 years of our count
Horned Grebe -- second lowest count ever for our count
Red-necked Grebe - fifth lowest for our count
Wood Duck - lowest since 1986
N. Shoveler - lowest since 1985
Lesser Scaup - lowest since 1998
Harlequin Duck - lowest since 1979
Bufflehead - lowest since 1984
Com. Goldeneye - lowest since 1976
Am. Coot - lowest since 1987
Ancient Murrelet - lowest since 1996
Belted Kingfisher - lowest since 1989
Bewick's Wren - lowest since 1994
Winter Wren - lowest since 1995
Evening Grosbeak - The classic eruptive finch. This was the eighth year since 1975 in which we missed EveBeaks, either on our count or during count week.
House Sparrow - lowest since 1998
Species we missed on our count this year that we often see:
Am Bittern, N. Pygmy Owl, Short-eared Owl (seen count week), Gray Jay, Townsend Warbler (seen count week), and Evening Grosbeak.
Owls did okay with a nice full moon and calm pre-dawn winds, rewarding 14.5 owling hours with 7 Barn Owls, 1 W. Screech-Owl, 4 Great Horned Owls, 2 Barred Owls, and 5 N. Saw-whet Owls.
All in all, we did reasonably well, considering the unfavorable conditions this year. Many, many thanks to all who participated in our count, particularly those hardy individuals who braved ugly conditions along the coast to reach difficult areas or went out in boats.
Also, many, many thanks to Barb Blackie for compiling the Port Angeles CBC again this year, the second official year of that count. As we go to press, Barb is still compiling the data, since the count occurred recently on Jan. 3, 2009. It looks like the PACBC will finish with 122 species this year, four more than last year’s 118.
Our intrepid counters:
- Dungeness Spit - Jamie Acker, Eugene Hunn, Brad Waggoner, Brien Meilleur.
- Dungeness Rec. Area - Ken & Nancy Wiersema, Alan Watkins, Coleman Byrnes, Sue Nattinger, Don Chesebro, Carolyn Wilcox, Marissa Ortega-Welch.
- Dungeness, 3 Crabs - Bob Boekelheide, Jerry Freilich, Bill and Karen Parker, Margaret Lotzgesell, Carrie Kalina, John and Pat Willets, Les Jones, Dave Manson, Scott Gremel, Scott Horton.
- Jamestown - Doug & Pipper Watkins, Pat & Stu MacRobbie.
- Graysmarsh - Scott Atkinson, Anne Winskie, Joyce Hershberger.
- Port Williams, Washington Harbor - Roger & Cat Hoffman, Steve Acker. West Sequim Bay, John Wayne Marina - Bob Norton, Jim & Audrey Gift, Ron Garton, Quenn Charrier, Rod Norvell; Dave Shreffler, Bruce & Carol Von Borstel E.
- Sequim Bay, Miller Pen. - Steve & Cheryl Ford, Dan McDougal-Treacy, Katherine Bush, Mary Porter-Solberg, Peggy Rhodes, John Woolley, Erv Ruhr, Francisco De La Cruz.
- Diamond Point, Gardiner - Judy Mullally, Barbara Williams, Fran Dieu, Joe Kaufman, Penny Hansa, Glen & Sharman Richardson, Judy Price, Jean Spargo.
- Offshore Waters - Bruce LaBar, Charlie Wright, Jamie & Katherine Flowers, Daniel Paull, Ryan Merrill, Mike Crim, Jan Kummet.
- Protection Island - Rod Norvell, Lorenz Sollmann - USFWS, Mary Nilsen, Bill & LaVonne Mueller.
- Chicken Coop Road - Charlotte Watts, Powell Jones, Dave Kirner.
- Palo Alto Rd, Woods Road - Powell Jones, Dave Kirner, Valerie Wolcott, Carlene Moberg.
- Happy Valley, Burnt Hill, Bell Hill, SE Sequim - John Bridge, John & Diana Anderson, Doug & Gretha Davis, Ron Stecker, Clare Hatler, Chrilo Von Gontard.
- Dungeness Mdws, River Rd. - Susan & Gary Mortimore.
- Lost Mtn, Dung. Fish Hatch., S of Hwy 101, W of Dung River - Elizabeth & Nanette Noyes, Bob Iddins, Pam Bedford, Denny Van Horn, Beth Clifford.
- Flatlands west of Dungeness River, to McDonald Cr - Dick & Phyllis Wenger, Betty Kramp, Jim Richard, Eftin & Ingrid Strong, Pat Holden, Pat Schoen, Kris Lether, Russell Rogers, Barb Boekelheide.
- Central Sequim, E of Dungeness River - Bob Hutchison, Margaret Levitan, Ruth Erskine, Jim Karr, Stu & Pat MacRobbie, John Bridge, Verlas Priest, Kathe Smith, Sara Blake.
- Dungeness Schoolhouse, E of Dungeness River - Dave & Julie Jackson, Ron & Laura Croft, Marion Rutledge, Margaret Yates, Diane & Tom Marciniec, Carol Keller, Patsy & Dave Mattingley, Don Myers, Joy Maxion, Richard Conger.
- Railroad Bridge Park and surroundings - Mary Robson, Hank and Raedell
Warren, Sheila Joyce.