Christmas comes early this weekend for birders on the south Island.
Those interested will flock outdoors for the annual Christmas Bird Count on Saturday and Sunday. An ideal activity during COVID-19, birding has really taken off in the last year, according to count organizer Ann Nightingale. It entails small groups of people walking outdoors for a few hours.
Nightingale recently discovered her team of 264 people topped the list of field counters in the 2,459 circles that participated in 2020. “Like most circles, our number of participants dropped last year, but not nearly as much as I thought they would. We just spread everyone out more and kept the groups very small. Overall, it was a great count,” she said in a statement.
The birders tallied 143 species, the highest total in 2020 for Canada, including several uncommon species such as Townsend’s Solitaire, Redhead, and Rock Sandpiper and a rare Black Phoebe, the first for the Victoria Christmas Bird Count.
This year’s Victoria Christmas Bird Count, hosted by the Victoria Natural History Society, is Saturday, Dec. 18.
There are also several other counts scheduled for different areas on southern Vancouver Island. Saanich Peninsula birders meet Dec. 19 at 8 a.m. at Panorama Recreation Centre for assignments. A snowy owl has recently been spotted in Sidney, and watchers will be keeping a keen eye out.
Sooke and Metchosin birders wait until after Christmas, hitting nature for that count on Dec. 27.
Rocky Point Bird Observatory hosts a scaled-back event for children with family-friendly walks in Beckwith Park in Saanich on Dec. 18 from 1 to 3 p.m.
“We’re hoping that this interest will result in even more people joining in. It’s a great way to spend a day outdoors. Other circles always have more feeder watchers, but we have more people out in the field,” Nightingale said.
Visit christmasbirdcount.ca for more information or to join a team.
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