2009 Christmas Bird Count Braves Winter Weather
Brown-headed Nuthatch sighted
was only the 2nd record for Fairfax County ever. Photo by Dan Sudia.
Preliminary results from the two Christmas Bird
Counts (CBC) in our area, the Fort Belvoir Count and the Washington D.C. Count,
which includes the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, are described below by their
respective compilers, both of whom are FODMers. Christmas Bird Counts,
sponsored by the Audubon society, are census counts of birds in the Western
Hemisphere, conducted by volunteers during the early Northern Hemisphere winter.
Washington, D.C. -
Well, it finally happened. Generally we have been
blessed with fairly decent or at least tolerable weather during the D.C.
Christmas Bird Count. This year was different. It is winter after all!
Originally scheduled for December 19, 2009, the count had to be postponed until
January 2, 2010 following the now famous 18-inch snowfall. The snow was gone
by January 2, but count day blessed us with maximum winds up to 35 miles per
Despite windy conditions, the teams surveying the
DMWP and points north up to Daingerfield Island found some pretty good birds.
Small songbirds that confine their foraging activities to the trees were
difficult to find in some cases, but birds that make their living in low bushes
are on the ground were well represented in some instances. How about this figure
for example? The teams recorded an impressive number of over 150 Northern
Cardinals--a common bird for sure, but still impressive. The teams there
also tallied some rarities, the most surprising a Black-and-white Warbler
followed by two Orange-crowned Warblers and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Dyke Marsh
yielded an American Tree Sparrow. Finally, waterfowl diversity was greater than
in previous counts, with highlights being a Greater White-fronted Goose, a
Cackling Goose, a Greater Scaup, 15 Canvasbacks, and four Redheads.
-- Larry Cartwright, Compiler, Washington D.C. CBC
Ft. Belvoir - Despite two weeks of snowy,
cold weather and low temperatures on January 3, 2010 further depressed with
20-40 mph winds, the preliminary species total for the Fort Belvoir CBC is an
outstanding 111, a bit below the historical average of 113 to 114.
Highlights were: Cackling Goose, Occoquan Bay NWR; Great Egret, Fort Belvoir;
Merlin, OBNWR, Mason Neck and Mount Vernon; Peregrine Falcon, Leesylvania State
Park; Virginia Rail, Huntley Meadows; King Rails, Huntley Meadows; Glaucous
Gull, Mason Neck Hallowing Pt. Estates; Brown-headed Nuthatch, Fountainhead Park
- ONLY the second occurrence in Fairfax County EVER; Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hard
Bargain Farm, MD; Yellow-throated Warbler, Indian Head, MD; Common Yellowthroat,
Burke Lake area; Brewer's Blackbird, Mason Neck Hallowing Pt Estates.
The weather notwithstanding, this was a fine count and shows not only the
diversity of habitats and species in our area but that we have a dedicated and
fine group of volunteers. Kudos to the counters!
-- Kurt Gaskill, Compiler, Fort Belvoir CBC