2018 Holiday Beach Christmas Bird Count Summary

Written by Jeremy Hatt for The Egret – Issue 35 – Number 1

The 2018 Holiday Beach Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday, Dec. 29. 36 volunteers participated in the count, with 33 people observing in the field and 3 people observing feeders. 77 party hours were tallied: 52 hours by foot, 25 hours by car, and 6 hours of feeder watching. A combined total of 441km of distance was traveled for the count by foot and by car.

Conditions for the 2018 Holiday Beach CBC were much milder and more comfortable than the bitter cold of the 2017 count. Temperatures ranged from a low of -1C in the early morning to a high of 1C in the mid-afternoon (temperatures in 2017 ranged from a low of -16C to a high of -9C!). There was a light snow in the early morning that ended before 8am and no other precipitation occurred during the count. Winds averaged between 10-15km/hr. There was also no snow cover on the count (whereas in 2017 there was a snow depth of 6 inches on the ground) and the waters of Lake Erie and the Detroit River as well as the inland waters of Big Creek were all open.

A total number of 18,584 individual birds were counted of 70 species. This is two species lower than the count in 2017. Three additional species were recorded during count week. As was the case with every other Essex County CBC in 2018, the number of passerines was lower on average than other years, likely due to the milder temperatures.

Highlights from the count included 1,438 Tundra Swans (record high for the count), 6,898 Canvasback, 33 Hooded Merganser (record high for the count), 2 Common Loons off of Holiday Beach (record high for the count), 1 Golden Eagle, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Eastern Phoebes on Boblo Island (record high for the count), 29 Eastern Bluebirds (record high for the count), and 1,014 Red-winged Blackbirds (record high for the count). Birds added during count week included Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Belted Kingfisher, and Merlin.

No new species were added to the count.

Tom Preney holding a Northern Saw-Whet Owl found dead at roadside in Area 5.

An enormous thank you goes out to Kory and Sarah Renaud for hosting the roundup at their house at short notice and for providing a meal of chili and refreshments for everyone who was able to attend. Special thanks also go out to all the area leaders as well as everyone who volunteered and helped organize another successful Holiday Beach CBC!

Area 5 (Boblo Island and south Amherstburg) group selfie. Left to right: Jeremy Hatt, Kathy Lesperance, Joan Affleck, Pat Schiller, Kory Renaud, Aileen Petrozzi.