Christmas Bird Count 2016
Calling all birders!
Our Annual Christmas Bird Count will be held on Saturday December 17, 2016 . This is a fun and healthy event that has been going on for over 40 years on Mayne. If you like, love or are passionate about birds then this event is for you. We have teams of people assigned to various routes in which they spend a portion of the count day identifying and counting all the birds that they can see. We usually mix the groupings so that there are good birders paired with new birders which makes of a great learning experience.
If you are interested, please contact Michael Dunn at the MICS office (5168) or at home (5745) to sign up. This is a great way to get out to explore our island in the early winter.
Pender Island Field Naturalists' Event
Burrowing Owls with Dr Geoff Holroyd Community Hall – Friday, February 26, 7:00 pm
On Friday, February 26, 2016 the Pender Island Field Naturalists will welcome Dr. Geoff Holroyd to Pender Island. Dr. Holroyd is a former research scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service who has spent many years studying Burrowing Owls on our prairie grasslands and elsewhere. He has also studied a variety of birds from Peregrine Falcons to Tree Swallows and has been a primary driver for the conservation of species at risk and their habitats within prairie grasslands. Geoff will discuss some of the factors that have led to the decline of this iconic grassland species.
Depending on the weather, the evening meeting will be followed by an “Owl Prowl” in a local area to be determined. Come prepared for a brisk evening outing! However, only 16 people can be accommodated, so if you plan to attend the outing, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org When we reach the magic number of 16, the list will be closed. The outing will be cancelled if it rains.
Admission is by donation at the door.
Christmas Bird Count 2015
Michael Dunn's Report
The Christmas Bird Counts are held every year and for every year we do them, there are always surprises. 2015 did not disappoint in that regard. December 19, 2015 was reasonably good weather wise with no rain, but some wind. Thirty-eight Mayne Islanders spent a cumulative total of 128 hours either walking, driving or boating the lands and shores of our island. By all accounts from the counters the general numbers were down, particularly among the common birds and bird species we usually see in numbers during the winter. A couple of factors were possible – the almost complete lack of Arbutus berries this year which in past years have attracted large flocks of Robins, Varied Thrush and other birds and the very high tides on the count day which meant no intertidal feeding areas for shorebirds and gulls.
So how did we do? Well the hunches of our counters were correct, for we tallied 4,535 individual birds, which is considerably down from last year’s total of 7,404. The incredible news is that we also tallied 82 species, a record for the Mayne Island count (compared 72 for last year). Within this number were new records for Mayne island including Wood Duck and Long-tailed Duck plus some uncommon (for Mayne) species including Northern Shrike, Steller’s Jay and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Incredibly, this year, most of the possible daytime raptor species were observed (Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned, and Red-tailed hawks, as well as Merlin, American Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon plus Bald Eagles). All the possible woodpecker species were also observed (Downy, Hairy, Pileated woodpeckers, Red-breasted Sapsucker and Northern Flicker). Both these factors have never been achieved before in previous counts.
Notable species tallies are the highest for the count Barrow’s Goldeneye (536), followed by Dark-eyed Junco (410), Golden-crowned Kinglet (291), Canada Goose (286), Surf Scoter (263) and Bufflehead (245). Other interesting numbers were for Black Turnstones and Surfbirds with only 4 and 1 seen respectively and compare this with last year with tallies of 127 and 372 respectively. Surf Scoters have a distinct cyclical overwintering population that is based on the availability and size of their preferred food- the Blue Mussel. This year was a low cycle (263 counted), while last year was a peak cycle (1033 counted). Robins, one of our most identifiable birds, were way down from previous years with only seventy-three seen compared with even last year’s total of 383. Anna’s Hummingbird, one of our newest resident species, showed a slight increase over last year totaling 61 birds seen. Black Oystercatcher numbers were notable with 42 seen even with the high tides compared with only 14 last year.
The Mayne Island count is part of a larger Audubon count area, which includes the Penders and Saturna Island. The grand totals for this area include 14,597 individual birds of 94 species were observed, 2 species less than the previous year. As usual, Dark-eyed Juncos were the most abundant songbird with 1422 being counted, followed by Golden-crowned Kinglets at 1140 and in third place, Chestnut-backed Chickadees with 687. However, waterbirds ruled as 2165 Mew Gulls were noted, most seen off Saturna Island. Buffleheads were common at 764 followed by Barrow’s Goldeneye at 708. Some pelagic bird numbers were lower as were the rock loving shorebirds. A record number of Bald Eagles was noted, 173, and Anna’s Hummingbird at 167, slowly continued its range expansion. The number for Mew Gulls was also a record.
Mayne Island recorded the highest number of species at 82 followed closely behind by Pender, 76, and Saturna, 75.
To view the full tally click here.
Latest BC News from Bird Studies Canada
Call for Volunteers: Shorebird Surveys, Coastal BC
22 March 2013 – Bird Studies Canada and Simon Fraser University are collaborating on a hemispheric-wide effort to study potential causes of declines of Western Sandpipers. Because they use many distinct migratory sites in the Salish Sea region, British Columbia is in the unique situation of supporting a large proportion of the Western Sandpiper population each year. This study aims to census about 20 sites in the Salish Sea and Vancouver Island, and northern Puget Sound Region. To cover this number of sites simultaneously, we are seeking help from volunteer birders.
If you’re skilled at shorebird identification and accurately estimating flock sizes (or are willing to learn estimation skills), please consider volunteering. A time commitment of three to four hours on April 28, and during two to three days on the weekends of July 19 and August 16, is required. Training will be available. The survey sites will focus on the following areas: Metro Vancouver, Victoria/Capital Region, Tofino, and Eastern Vancouver Island. If you’re interested in participating or learning more, please email David Hope (email@example.com) or Karen Barry (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line “WESA Survey,” and state which area you’d be willing to survey.
New Sightings for Mayne Island
- If you see or hear a "new arrival" in the coming Spring do let us know. You could phone Michael at 5745, or better yet, use the on-line form below. Photos can be attached to an email message sent to email@example.com
Unusual or Rare Sightings
April 12, Alice Harris reports hearing a Western Screech Owl off Bowsprit - close to the "Level 3 Habitat" zone indicated on our Species Home Range maps.
January 31, Michael Dunn saw a Snowy Owl in the Glen Echo Road area. This is a very rare occurrence and the first he's observed in his 21 years on Mayne.
January 13 and 14, 2013 a Western Screech Owl, a bird species at risk, has been heard calling (there may be two) around Gallagher Bay and Purcell Roads.
January 12-14, 2013 a large flock of up to 1200 Surf Scoters has been seen along the Strait of Georgia side of Mayne Island feeding between Active Pass and Campbell Point. This is the largest single flock recorded for Mayne in the last 15 years at least.
December 31, 2012 An adult Golden Eagle observed over and around Reef Bay moving toward Edith Point. This is likely a first record for Mayne and this is not a very common observation for our area.
December 17, 2012 A pair of Yellow-shafted Flickers at Gallagher Bay Road and Purcell Road. While considered to be the same species as the Red-shafted Flicker (both classed as the Northern Flicker), it is still a striking bird to see.
December 15, 2012 Ringed-neck Duck sighted Windover Farm and Spotted Sandpiper at pond off Fernhill Road.
* For complete listing of 2011-2012 sightings & arrivals visit our Sightings Archive
Birding Refresher Course had Good Results
A wonderful break from the cloud, wind and rain, Sunday, December 2, 2012 proved to be a beautiful sunny day for ten bird enthusiasts. The birds, too seemed to be rejoicing in the brighter day judging from the numbers and diversity of species seen. The outing was hosted by the Mayne Island Conservancy under the wing (pun intended) of Michael Dunn. It was to give people a chance to improve their field observation skills as well as practice techniques for counting large flocks. Over the course of about 3 hours, the group visited Miners Bay park and bay, Georgina Point, Merryman Road and Village Bay at the boat ramp. In all, 36 species were observed representing about 850 individuals. The highlight was seeing two Anna’s Hummingbirds in Miners Bay Park. A partial list of birds sighted and numbers follows. Note that this is not a complete listing of total numbers encountered.
- Miners Bay Park and Bay
Pacific Loon – 42 Common Goldeneye – 2 Double-crested Cormorant – 8 Pelagic Cormorant – 2 Bufflehead – 8 Bald Eagle – 4 Golden-crowned Kinglet – 14 House Sparrow – 6 Song Sparrow – 3 Fox Sparrow – 1 Red-breasted Merganser – 4 Anna’s Hummingbird – 2 Unidentified Gulls – 42 Spotted Towhee – 4
- Georgina Point
Bald Eagle – 5 Bonaparte’s Gull – 15 Pacific Loon – 100+ Common Murre – 40 Pigeon Guillemot – 4 Barrow’s Goldeneye – 26 Unidentified Gulls - 120 House Sparrow – 6 Song Sparrow – 3 Fox Sparrow – 1 Red-breasted Merganser – 4
- Merryman Road
Pine Siskin - ~350 Pacific Wren – 3 American Robin – 4 Northern Flicker – 3 Red-shafted/Yellow-shafted Flicker hybrid – 1 Red Crossbill- 2 Song Sparrow – 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet – 4 Dark-eyed Junco – 1 Bald Eagle – 2 Common Raven – 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1 Northwestern Crow – 3
- Village Bay
Belted Kingfisher – 1 Bufflehead – 8 American Wigeon – 9 Glaucous-winged Gull – 4 Mew Gull – 25 California Gull – 1 Double-crested Cormorant – 12 Pelagic Cormorant – 2 Thayer’s Gull - 4 Common Merganser - 4
2013 Mayne Island Christmas Bird Count
One day within the last two weeks of December Mayne Island birders, along with thousands of others throughout North America, took to the roads, forests, fields and marine waters to census the birds of winter on our island. For this year’s count it was December 14, 2013 (note that this is for the 2014 count as the count period straddles the new year). The weather was calm and mild as we had just come out of the previous week’s freeze up so there was still ice on some of the ponds; which is significant and I will explain later.
This year 30 Mayne Islanders participated in the count, which is our highest birder count on record. While the weather was great for visibility and sound, the consensus of the counters was that the numbers were way down from previous years. This observation was likely true for parts of the island which are most exposed during freezing weather. This would mean that birds which frequent fields and freshwater bodies would have a hard time getting enough food to survive the frigid temperatures. That is, the ground was too frozen for foraging and the ponds were frozen over (also a source of water for birds). In these cases, wintering birds move a little further south to better feeding opportunities. They eventually return as the weather warms up. It is likely the day of our count was too soon after the freeze up to have those b
This year Mayne Island tallied, despite the above, 74 species with a total of 6,009 individual birds. In the scheme of things this was about average (our average over the last ten years is 6062) although this is well below the total count numbers over the last two years – 7105 (2012) and 6488 (2013). Our average for species over the same 10-year period is 72. So we are slightly above average in that regard and higher than the last two year count totals- 64 (2012) and 71 (2013). The table at the end of this article will provide you with the run down of the last ten years. It is quite revealing in that our species and individual bird count highs were at the beginning of this period and have fluctuated quite a bit since.
With respect to the table, you will note a column with Anna’s Hummingbird numbers from 2004 to present. Before 2004, Anna’s were a rare sighting around here at any time of the year. Their established range was more south around California. However, this diminutive species began to be observed over wintering in areas further north. The first winter records that I am aware of were in Victoria and all exclusively related to people keeping hummingbird feeders out over winter. Mayne Island’s first confirmed winter record was 2004, though likely the Anna’s was present before this time. As the table indicates, the number of Anna’s detected over the years rose slowly at first then jumped to our 2014 total of 35 a count record for us. The reason for this is that at some point in around 2010 or shortly thereafter, the Anna’s Hummingbird began breeding on Mayne and as of this timeframe is now a year-round resident bird, which is quite remarkable.
Some of the interesting observations this year include count highs for those pesky (hard to identify) gulls (600), Chestnut-backed Chickadees (477), Canada Goose (450), Surfbird (434 and an historic high), Golden-crowned Kinglet (420), Dark-eyed Junco (416), and American Robin (365). Other significant numbers were for Varied Thrush (108) another historic count high and amazingly, 12 Red-winged Blackbirds. Our two rare birds of the count were the Eurasian Wigeon (2), among a larger flock of American Wigeons and two Spotted Sandpipers foraging along the shore.
Another feature of these Audubon Christmas Bird Counts is that species that are observed within a week of the actual count day can be recorded as Count Week birds. This category only applies to species not seen on the actual count day. So for Mayne Island we tallied three count week species – Black Brant (a sea goose) (30) off Georgina Point, a Great Horned Owl and a pair of Barred Owls.
Thanks to the great group of folks who participated this year and a special thanks to landowners who gave us permission to count on their properties.
YEAR SPECIES TOTAL TOTAL NUMBERS ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD 2004 81 8381 1 2005 80 7890 1 2006 73 5600 1 2007 69 3800 4 2008 75 7173 3 2009 65 4371 3 2010 73 5144 8 2011 73 4666 8 2012 64 7105 15 2013 71 6488 21 2014 74 6009 35
To view a complete recap of the count of numbers and species for each of our local teams click here
Birding outing held on Sunday September 16 focused on what you might see in your own backyard and neighbourhood. We started at the Gallagher Bay Road residence of Michael Dunn and did a casual walk to Piggott and Gallagher bays, hoping to spot the Spotted Sandpiper. We did not unfortunately but along the way, we did see 20 species of birds. There were 10 participants. The total list was:
|Turkey Vulture||Spotted Towhee||Song Sparrow|
|Pine Siskin||Red-breasted Nuthatch||Osprey|
|Cooper's Hawk||Common Raven||Chestnut-backed Chickadee|
|Brown Creeper||Winter Wren||Red Crossbill|
|Northern Flicker||Hairy Woodpecker||Great Blue Heron|
|Belted Kingfisher||Ruby-crowned Kinglet||Canada Goose|
|American Robin||Mew Gull|