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Clark's Crossing Christmas Bird Count
December 16, 2000.

by Michael Williams

Is last December's weather now just a distant memory? After a week of frigid arctic weather, the day before the count ushered in a blizzard with bitter northeast wind and blowing snow not the sort of day to engender enthusiasm for going out to count birds! And count day dawned clear and cold at -33 C!

If you felt like I did, the prospect was not pleasant! But there was no wind. And it was sunny. And by afternoon, if you were warmly dressed, it turned out to be a very pleasant day indeed, as the results confirm. In this, the tenth annual Clark's Crossing count (which includes the northern suburbs of Saskatoon, Martensville, Warman, Osler, and part of the Strawberry Hills) we counted 5294 birds, second only to the record 5404 in 1998.

As might be expected, water birds were not plentiful, since the river was almost completely frozen over; but 41 Common Goldeneye were spotted through the mist in the open stretch near the sewage treatment plant. New record highs were set for Great Horned Owl (7), Black-capped Chickadee (153), and Snow Bunting (2650). Pine Siskins (15) were seen on this count for the first time. Except for the buntings and an average number of Snowy Owls (3), winter visitors were scarce: Bohemian Waxwings (9), Pine Grosbeaks (10), and the total absence of Common Redpolls reflect this observation.

Highlights for the day for a few sector teams were a Northern Goshawk, a Ruffed Grouse, and a Gyrfalcon (the latter seen chasing a Rock Dove at a farmstead near Wanuskewin). An American Robin, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and a Dark-eyed Junco were also seen. Year-round resident birds were present in good numbers: Gray Partridge (177), Sharp-tailed Grouse (32), Rock Dove (141), Downy Woodpecker (6), Hairy Woodpecker (11), Black-billed Magpie (295), Common Raven (30), European Starling (46), and House Sparrow (1661).

Total number of species recorded was 23, which is average for this count. Many thanks to the 20 field observers who joined in the hunt; in spite of the weather, all teams reported a good day of birding. A detailed summary of count statistics is available for participants, and to others on request.

Note: a couple of corrections to the Saskatoon Count summary in the January 2001 newsletter: 1. "American Robin (10)" should read "American Robin (5), American Crow (10)" 2. Feeder watchers should read 49 (not 47) and total participants should read 110 (not 108).

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Last revised: 2. February 2001.