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Pike Lake Bird Count - 3. January 2011 (28th annual count)


By Hilda Noton, count compiler

Last of the Saskatoon area bird counts, the Pike Lake count was done Monday, January 3rd, 2011. Thirty-four counters participated, divided into seven teams, covering six sectors of the count circle on the west side of the river and one on the east side. The day was bright and sunny, with moderate temperature and good visibility; wind speed increased to 20 km/hr in the afternoon. Snow cover ranged from 10 to 30 cm.

The results of this count are submitted to Christmas Bird Count-Bird Studies Canada and can be viewed on its website, and to Nature Saskatchewan's Blue Jay magazine which will have printed results in the March issue.

A special 'thank you' to the congregation of St. Martin's Anglican Church, in the village of Pike Lake, for allowing us to use the church basement for our lunch break and to Dwight and Nancy Young who make the arrangements and set up tables. Counters appreciate the opportunity to warm up, chat and compare notes.

Also, thank you to feeder watchers Ann Christensen, Lynn and Scotty Oliver, and Betty Ann Dunlap who stock their feeders, adding species and individual numbers to our count.

Twenty-six species were recorded on count day, down from 32 last year. The highest count on record was 35 species in 2002, the lowest 19 in 1983. In spite of a very good turnout of counters, individual bird numbers were down to 1875 from 3677 last year. Michael Gollop reported from the east side of the river, "The woods were absolutely quiet, not even a chickadee!"

Michael Williams' team topped the species counts at 17, including a single flock of 19 Hoary Redpolls. That's a rare sight, since the norm is only one or two in a huge flock of Common Redpolls. In the east sector, Michael Gollop found 5 Bald Eagles, (3 adult and 2 immatures), and Lorne Duczek and Keith Pahl saw 4 Rusty Blackbirds, up two from last year. Pileated Woodpeckers (2) have been reported on the west side of the river every year since 1996. One Mourning Dove was seen at the Stuglin residence, near Pipp's Store, the day before the count.

First time reported on this count: May Haga and Gordon Crockford saw a bull moose on the Low Road to Pike Lake, just north of "Stonehenge". Other mammals seen: White-tailed Jack Rabbit (1), Red Squirrel (12), Porcupine (3), Coyote (3), Mule Deer (3), White-tailed Deer (26). Evening Grosbeaks, reported only in ones and twos, or not seen at all in recent years, were up to 11; the record high was 77 in 1986. Raven numbers continue to remain high and Black-billed Magpies, victims of West Nile virus a couple of years ago, have almost doubled from last year. White-breasted Nuthatches remain high (27), but the Red-Breasted Nuthatches (2) dropped from an all-time high of 22 last year. Six Northern Shrikes was the highest number since counts began in 1983. There were no large flocks of Common Redpolls and no overwintering Juncos or White-throated Sparrows.

Other species: Gray Partridge (4), Ruffed Grouse (2), Sharp-tailed Grouse (88), Rock Pigeon (65), Great Horned Owl (5), Downy Woodpecker (27), Hairy Woodpecker (27), Northern Flicker (1), Blue Jay (13), Black-billed Magpie (227), Common Raven (85), Black-capped Chickadee (401), Bohemian Waxwing (88), Cedar Waxing (13), Northern Shrike (6), European Starling (28), Snow Bunting (271), Common Redpoll (72), House Sparrow (386).

Thank you to all 34 counters who bundled up to brave the elements, and tramp the woods and acreages. Hardy Saskatchewanians contributing to citizen science!

   
   
Last updated: 9 February, 2011