Volunteers flocked in all directions on Dec. 27 to participate in the annual Sooke Christmas Bird Count.
Perhaps due to the frigid conditions and snow, only 44 people took part, down from 70 in 2020, Sooke Christmas Bird Count co-ordinator Robyn Byrne said.
Although results are still being compiled, 111 species of our feathered friends were counted, up from 109 in 2020 and the highest species count since 2016, when 113 were tallied.
“Only one rare bird was encountered, a common redpoll in amongst a flock of pine siskins,” Byrne said.
“However, there were still some impressive finds throughout the day: three snow geese, three brant, 1,273 dunlin and 11 long-tailed ducks, as well as two Western meadowlarks and 311 Anna’s hummingbirds.”
More than 16,400 birds were counted, which is low compared to the total of 27,000 in 2020, Byrne said.
Early birders out at 6 a.m. spotted one northern saw-whet owl, 11 great horned owls and two barred owls.
A dozen people participated by counting birds on the feeders at their homes and submitted the results.
“Feeder watching is a fun thing to do all year round for both young and old alike,” Byrne said. “You can learn about the different species coming to your feeders and how those species change throughout the year.”
The area covered for the Sooke Christmas Bird Count is a 24-kilometre circle around Sooke divided into eight zones, with Otter Point to the east, Witty’s Lagoon to the west, Sooke Potholes to the north and ocean to the south.
“That’s a lot of areas to cover,” Byrne said. “We’re always looking for a couple of people with boats who can take birders out to survey the water zones.”
Due to this year’s inclement weather, the Ecoguardians at Race Rocks did a count of their own.
“We’d love to have more Sooke residents participating in the count,” Byrne said. “If people would like to be involved, they can send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll add them to the notification list for next year.”