Christmas Bird Counts 2022/2023

I recently read the review for the Nova Scotia Christmas Bird Counts 2022/2023 in Nova Scotia Birds Volume 65, Issue 2, Winter 2022-23 written by David Currie.

This was the 108th count done by Nova Scotia and covered Dec. 14, 2022 to Jan. 5, 2023. Thirty-four counts took place across Nova Scotia. There were 246,265 individual birds tallied by 940 observers, comprised of 674 people in the field and 266 feeder watchers.

People spent 1,667 hours in the field and logged 9,251 kilometers travelling by foot, car, all-terrain vehicle, boat or bicycle. A total of 168 species were found. Over the years, the cumulative number stands at 298. David lets us know that over the last 30 years we added 75 new species to this list.

During these counts for 2022/2023, two new species were added to the all-time list, black-tailed godwit and orchard oriole. A new high was obtained for Canada goose with 24,416, which was up 20 per cent from the previous year high.

Birds of note were seven redheads, and two tufted ducks. The number of harlequin ducks was of concern in the past but during the 2022/2023 season we had our second highest total of these birds at 384. A few egrets and herons stayed here with a great egret at Port L'Hebert and a snowy egret at Cape Sable Island.

A black vulture was found on the Pictou Harbour Count. Four long-billed dowitchers were counted and four eastern phoebes had lingered for the counts. It was not long ago that the white-breasted nuthatch was considered as a rare bird in winter.

The white-breasted nuthatch numbers are now closely matching those of red-breasted nuthatch. During this particular count season, 593 white-breasted nuthatches were recorded and 608 red-breasted nuthatches. House sparrow numbers continue to show a decline.

David states that in 1998 we had 8,500 birds during the Christmas Bird Counts throughout the province. During the 2022/2023 counts there were only 443, the lowest ever. As an aside, NS Christmas Bird Counts have recorded 26 species of warblers.

On Feb. 17 David and Mary Walmark saw 11 common goldeneyes and nine greater scaup at the Silver Point Road in Garden Lots. At Heckman's Island they saw two hooded mergansers, two common mergansers and two northern cardinals.

Lise Bell reported the arrival of red crossbills on Bush Island. Bonnie Whynot of Upper Northfield reported Canada geese and American robins. Sue Beaver of Garden Lots also saw American robins. She had red-winged blackbirds and common grackles at her feeders.

Charlene MacDonald of First South told me that she had a lot of red-winged blackbirds and some common grackles moving through. On March 17, Marg Millard had a lot of red-winged blackbirds and also saw common grackles. Kerry Jarvis saw his first common grackles in Riverport for the year. Marjorie Zwicker of Aubrndale had a red-winged blackbird arrive.

Paul Rogers of Conquerall Bank has been watching a pileated woodpecker pair working on clearing out a hole in one of his trees for nesting purposes. On March 19, David Walmark of Kingsburg reported five American robins, three red-winged blackbirds, three common grackles, one downy woodpecker, one song sparrow, 70 European starlings, eight black-capped chickadees and 10 blue jays.

While out birding in First South, Corkum's Island, Lunenburg, Kissing Bridge Road and Second Peninsula, I heard 31 song sparrows singing on territory. Other species also calling on territory were dark-eyed junco, northern cardinal and northern flickers. Eric Mills saw a lesser yellowlegs at Sand Dollar Beach in Rose Bay and discovered a pair of gadwalls at Second Peninsula.

There were many reports of winter wrens calling across the province as well as American woodcocks. On March 13 Logan Moore reported a flock of 500 Bohemian waxwings along the Blanche Peninsula. March 16 produced a marsh wren, singing along the Egypt Road, for Alix d'Entremont.

The mute swan still remained at Pickney's Point and was observed by Ronnie d'Entremont. A snow goose was a good sighting for Tony Millard at Mavilette Beach. As reported by Kathy O., the gray heron was still present at Ste. Anne du Risseau. On March 17 Peter Payzant noted an American crow carrying nesting material. Helen MacMillan saw two American crows collecting nesting material from an osprey nest. Previously she had seen a bald eagle collecting sticks from this same nest.

On March 18, Ervin Olsen saw a pair of great blue herons back at a nesting site at Yarmouth Harbour. Rick Brown saw a tree swallow along the Helen Lucy Road. Andrew Bates commented that the eastern phoebe that had overwintered was still at the Kentville Curling Club.

On March 19, Paul Gould saw an American tree swallow at Argyle Head and Angie Millard had one at Overton. Kathleen MacAulay, on a sea watch at Cape Forchu, sighted 3,000 alcids, most of which were thick-billed murres.

You may reach me at 902-693-2174 or email jrhbirder@hotmail.com.

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