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Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another Christmas Bird Count is history

I set my alarm last night, and was up before the crack of dawn this morning to prepare for my umpteenth Christmas Bird Count (CBC) this morning. I opted out of driving to Folkston for a pre-count meeting at 6:15, and just met the group I would be counting with on the refuge a little after 7:00.  This would be the first time I would do a CBC from a boat rather than by car or on foot.  (on foot was out for me this year)

Before we headed out into the real swamp, we had a few stops to make to try to find some red-cockaded woodpeckers.  Even though it was raining, we were able to find nine of these rare little birds between two  locations.  Cool beans! 

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There were four members in our group today.  Our leader was Art, a supervisory ranger, who was spending his last day before retirement getting paid to watch and count birds.  What a way to end a career!  He would be piloting our boat.  Besides the two of us, there was a woman who had done the CBC on the refuge in a boat for years and years, and a brand new staff member to the refuge.  Since Art was driving the boat, he asked who would be the recorder for our count.  The new staff member stated she was coming to take pictures.  Okay, so I volunteered to be recorder. 

To answer a commenter’s question, we identify and count every different species we see while we are out and record how many of each species are seen.  With four observers, my job was to keep track of every sighting that was called out.  That certainly didn’t leave me much time for photography.  I really didn’t mind though, since the damp dreary conditions didn’t make for stunning photos anyway, and I’ve always enjoyed the excitement and challenge of trying to find every bird possible and documenting it.

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Even with the iffy weather, we weren’t the only ones on the water.  We ran into several groups of canoers/kayakers that were plying the waters in the Federally designated Wilderness Area.  It amazes me how many people secure advance reservations to paddle these wilderness areas and camp for several nights at designated sites no matter what time of year it is. 

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We stopped for lunch at the Roundtop camping platform for our only pit stop of the day.  It was quite a challenge for me to literally crawl out of the boat to get on the platform.  I needed all the help that was offered to accomplish that, but nature’s call made it mandatory. Disappointed smile  Carol, our more elderly counter, must have a bladder of steel as she never once got out of the boat during our long trip.

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We covered well over twenty miles in our travels through the swamp today, and despite the weather, it was a productive bird day in the Suwannee Canal and in the Chase and Chesser watery prairies.  Sure beat doing the CBCs I used to do in cold and snowy upstate New York!  Not that it was balmy here.  I had on many layers including my winter coat, gloves, winter hat, and an outer layer of wind/rain pants. 

It was ten hours before I returned to the rig.  Emma was thrilled when I immediately took her out, and we soon had the arrival of new neighbors.  Another volunteer couple drove in.  I think I’ll head to bed early tonight.  I’m pooped, and I have to work tomorrow.

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                                                                                  THE END!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

20 comments:

  1. You only got one potty break? I would have had lots of problems. A good bird count makes for happy bird spotters - so glad you had a great day.

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  2. I'd love to do that sometime. Sounds like a fun day out except for your physical limitations.

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  3. even if you were working today, you got some great photos!! you deserve a good night's sleep!

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  4. Glad to hear the count went well and you didn't rock the boat when you saw those rare red-cockamamy woodpeckers. :c)

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  5. I had a Red-bellied woodpecker at our feeder today. I was so thrilled. I'm glad you were able to see your rare woodpeckers.

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  6. Gees, that long of day..... one would have to forgo the coffee just to make it to the potty break! Sounds like a fun day though! Worth it just for the boat ride. Take Care!! And Happy New Year!! It is going to be a good one!!

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  7. Good day and you still managed to get some really great shots

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  8. The things we do when the weather is less than optimum directly correlates to our interest in the subject matter.

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  9. 9 red cockaded woodpeckers on a rainy day is great. I am so envious. I need a spotter to take me out since I only recognize the most common birds. So I have never done a CBC but always wanted to. If I could be the recorder I would learn so much. Sure hope the photographer was a really good one or they will be very sorry you were not doing it.

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  10. You sure got some good photos while on the water... love that Spanish Moss hanging over the swamp. I'd have really enjoyed going along on your outing today... heck, I'd probably volunteer to paddle the boat if necessary! Hope you let us know how many species you recorded and what they were.... just curious.

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  11. enjoyed reading your blog today...I too will be anxious to know what all you saw in that one day and did the ranger feel it was a good count and things or birds are all well...

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  12. I can't tell one bird from another but I do know great pics when I see them - those swamp shots in the boat are really nice.

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  13. Great photos today, and especially the Spanish Moss..Den and I were hoping to visit you on our way down to Florida, but we are both pretty sick with chest colds and didn't want to expose you just before surgery..maybe on our way back..We are holding up in Eufaula, Georgia for a week to see if we can recover..

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  14. So THAT'S where MY sandhill cranes go in the winter! :) (I'm in Michigan and only see those in the summer.)

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  15. I think the dreary day added beauty and a calm feeling to your pictures. Great shots of the Sandhill Cranes!

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  16. Hey Judy, thanks for the comment on my blog!
    Wishing you health, happiness and holidays for 2013.
    ¡Feliz año nuevo! from La Isla Bonita, Canary Islands
    Ann

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  17. So how many species did you get? Just found out that Bruce and I got 51 species, in 19.5 miles of paddling, 8 of which only we saw.

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