Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Audubon Bird Count

Heron

Heron. Photo by Tony Quin

The annual Hornby Island Christmas bird count is sponsored by CHI and is coordinated by the Comox Valley Natural History Society. The results of the one day count are incorporated in the Audubon Christmas bird count. Hornby Island is grouped with Denman Island, Buckley Bay and the Deep Bay area for the count on the same day. On Hornby Island, approximately 24 shoreline sites are counted along with two upland lakes. Backyard birders phone in their findings on the same day.

2014 Bird Count

The results of the December 14, 2014 count can be viewed  at the Bird Studies Canada website.

2015 Bird Count

This annual count was conducted on December 16th, 2015 and the results can be viewed here.

2016 Bird Count – coming soon.

2017 Bird Count

This annual count was conducted on December 14, 2017.  The results can be viewed here. The mention “CW” on the list denotes a count-week species: any species of bird that was not recorded on the day of the count but was observed in the 3 days before or the 3 days after.

Worth noting that the weather was very foggy, with poor visibility all day. 36 people participated, some counting shoreline routes, some doing backyard counts, some doing both.

The next day a group went all around the island counting seabirds. The results cannot be included in the Christmas Bird Count but this is the third time they did this, and it’s important data for us as a conservancy organization. Some of the birds seen offshore became count-week species on the list above.

The big flock of Western Grebes (6200!) was an important sighting. Art Martell said that these numbers of Western Grebes had not been documented around here for many years (the Western Grebes had moved their wintering grounds to the Oregon coast for the past 20 years or so, and this is a sign that they may be moving back).  The people on board understood the significance of that sighting and were careful in their documentation. (It was awesome!)

Here is Paula Courteau’s report about that day:

2017 Offshore bird survey

Circumnavigation of Hornby Island
MV Sun Corona, December 15 2017

Paula Courteau’s photos can be viewed here.

Participants: Grant Scott, George Stonehouse, Philinda Dunne, Barb Biagi, Neil Wilson, Jenny Balke, Mike Morrell, Paula Courteau.

The goal was to record as many as possible of the birds that would not have been seen during the Christmas Count. We counted birds on the outer islets and reefs but not on the Hornby shore. Jenny Balke also recorded the sea mammals.

Among the many highlights:
—Huge flock of Western Grebes at the end of Nash Bank, 2 km southeast of Tribune Bay. Birds were scattered over several km. Our estimate was 6200. There may have been more further  east.
—A Cassin’s Auklet between Nash Bank and Helliwelll Park.
—7 Ancient Murrelets in 2 sightings
—2 small pods of Killer Whales
—Some nice close views of Common Murres, Long-tailed Ducks, Brandt’s Cormorants and Pacific Loons

Horned Grebe 18
Red-necked Grebe 41
Western Grebe 6200
Common Loon 16
Pacific Loon 91
Brandt’s Cormorant 44
Double-crested Cormorant 10
Pelagic Cormorant 22
Unidentified cormorant 9
Black-bellied Plover 1
Dunlin 10
Black Turnstone 10
Surfbird 40
Greater Yellowlegs 1

Bald eagle 8 adult, 4 immature

Bufflehead 75
Harlequin 21
Mallard 2
Common Merganser 28
Red-breasted Merganser 4
Surf Scoter 21
White-winged Scoter 50
Unid. scoter 150 (2 views of a flock in the same location the preceding week showed about 60% Black, 30% White-winged, 10% Surf)
American Wigeon 110
Long-tailed Duck 154, most of them west of Collishaw Point
Glaucous-winged Gull 31
Mew Gull 7
Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull 62
Unid. Gull 40
Common Murre 167
Pigeon Guillemot 19
Ancient Murrelet 7
Cassin’s Auklet 1

Marine mammals:

Norris Rocks, south side only: 260 Steller sea lions , 3 California sea lions.
2 branded Stellers: 101Y, previously seen in the same location; 385Y? difficult to read because of angle.

Flora Islet, south side only: 130 Steller sea lions, 100 California sea lions.
1 branded California: 8493; 1 branded unknown (head not visible) 9589.

Killer Whales:
3 males, Nash Bank.
3 females and one young (female?), east of Flora Islet.