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Clark's Crossing Christmas Bird Count
December 15, 2001.

by Michael Williams

The day dawned cloudy and cold, but the sky cleared quickly and the temperature rose to -4 deg. C, providing good birding conditions for the 11th annual Clark's Crossing Count. A full complement of field observers (27), split into eight sector teams, were able to come up with 33 species of birds, well ahead of the old record of 28, set in 1998.

On the river, which remained open only near the south side of the count circle, 192 common goldeneyes were actively feeding below the sewage treatment plant. A common merganser and three mallards were also counted. Only one Canada goose was seen on the river, but Stan Shadick's team spotted 30 more in the south sector.

Among the raptors, the sighting of a gyrfalcon and a prairie falcon by Marten Stoffel's team in the area south of Warman were notable events. A bald eagle was observed, spotted by LynnOliphant as he drove through the south sector. Snowy owls (8) were well represented in the district this year. Other highlights were a brown creeper, seen searching the trunk of a Scots pine in Osler, and a common grackle lingering in the shrubbery in the Strawberry Hills. Jim Wood's team spotted a northern shrike in the north sector, and Hilda Noton's team recorded the only robins (8) in the district.

Most abundant species included house sparrows (2072), common redpoll (725), magpies (375), rock dove (281), snow bunting (271), and chickadee (164). Although redpolls were back in good numbers this winter, the complete absence of waxwings was noticeable. House finches have apparently established a beachhead in Silverwood Heights -- it will be interesting to see how quickly the numbers grow in this neighbourhood in the next few years. Other species recorded on the count were grey partridge (72), sharp-tailed grouse (13), great horned owl (1), downy woodpecker (9), hairy woodpecker (5), northern flicker (2), blue jay (4), common raven (20), red-breasted nuthatch (2), European starling (58), pine grosbeak (3), white-winged crossbill (4), and pine siskin (6).

Many thanks to all who came out to help with this count in the busy pre-Christmas period. Results of this and all other Saskatchewan Christmas Bird Counts are published in the March issue of Blue Jay, Nature Saskatchewan's quarterly journal. A detailed breakdown of count statistics by team sector is available on request .

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Last modified: 6 February, 2010