Friday, December 30, 2011

Arkabutla Christmas Bird Count

The other day we went to the Arkabutla Christmas Bird Count at Arkabutla Lake. We did a lot of the counting around the lake, and also at a place called Coldwater Point. We saw 54 species total. Here are some of the more impressive ones:

82 Snow Geese (life bird!)
22 Greater White-fronted Geese (also called 'Specklebellies')
110 American White Pelicans
455 Ring-billed Gulls
5 Great Egrets
168 Lesser Scaup
85 Buffleheads
30 Great Blue Herons (seen at many locations)
1 Bald Eagle
50 Horned Larks
22 Eastern Meadowlarks
And much, much more!

Of course, we also saw about a million Blue Jays and other common species like that. We did a lot of watching from the car, but we stopped whenever we saw a bird. We also found 2 or 3 deer carcasses (gross), which attracted a fair amount of vultures (36 Turkey and 5 Black). Okay, I know some people who are not bird-obsessed like me will not know what I'm talking about, but hopefully they will be motivated to learn more. We went as part of the Tennessee Ornithological Society. This was the first walk we've been on with them, so, naturally, I forgot the camera. Oh, well. I did make some realizations: #1. I need more species on my Life List! #2. I do not know as much about birds as I think I do. The guy who led our group had been birding as long as I have (6 years), and he was waaaay better than me. New Year resolution: Learn as much as I can!!!

So this is how we did it. Christmas Bird Counts (or CBCs) always have include all the birds in a 15-mile radius. We bent the rules a little because our circle was not really a circle. Once inside the "circle", we counted all the birds we saw. Every single one. Pigeons and House Sparrows count, too! There were 2 other groups, each one counting around different parts of the lake. Altogether, we had 102 species, including some rarities like Lapland Longspur, Short-eared Owl and Thayer's Gull (none of which our group saw). We birded the northeastern part of the lake. Our only shorebird was a lone Killdeer. Apparently the southern part has Sandhill Cranes, a bird I've only seen once, in Nebraska. And there were only twelve participants!

Arkabutla Lake is a really great place to bird, fish, boat, or camp. If you can go there, I urge you to.

Happy Trails, everybody!!

~~Katydids and Bluebirds~~

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