Archive for Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bird lovers cluster for annual count

Snow Geese fill the sky northeast of Lawrence on Wednesday. Many of them stopped at area lakes and fields to rest before moving south. Area birders turned out, despite freezing temperatures, for the annual Christmas bird count Saturday, meeting in the evening to compare notes.

Snow Geese fill the sky northeast of Lawrence on Wednesday. Many of them stopped at area lakes and fields to rest before moving south. Area birders turned out, despite freezing temperatures, for the annual Christmas bird count Saturday, meeting in the evening to compare notes.

December 16, 2007

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Their dedication was evident.

In freezing temperatures with snowflakes falling for much of Saturday, Lawrence-area bird lovers still set out with their binoculars for the annual Christmas bird count, a National Audubon Society program.

"It's just as much as anything an excuse for obsessed bird watchers to get out and do what they enjoy doing in the middle of the winter when normal people don't do this," said Stan Roth, a biologist and retired longtime Lawrence High School teacher.

Roth and three colleagues watched the cloudy skies, wooded areas and fields along the north side of the Kansas River levee and in North Lawrence for hours. He is in charge of the count in that area.

Birders spread out across 11 sectors of the Lawrence area for the day's scheduled count to identify different bird species and tally the total number seen and heard. It's an annual one-day event that must be scheduled in advance any time from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5. About 45 take place in Kansas with several hundred more across the country.

Roth - this is his 39th count - said the precipitation and winds likely influenced how many birds his group saw, but they had still identified 39 species by 11 a.m. And they found some birds not as typical to the area, he said.

Jeff Witters was able to get inches from a small ruby-crowned kinglet on the edge of a wooded area near East 1250 Road and North 2000 Road.

"It's moments like this that make it worth standing out in the cold when you feel like your face is freezing off," he said.

The group also saw a trumpeter swan earlier in the morning along with many geese and ducks.

Roth had his team of Witters; Jon Standing, a Lawrence resident; and Robert Hagen, a courtesy assistant Kansas University biology and environmental studies professor who usually specializes in insects, but Roth coaxed him to come along.

All of the Lawrence bird watchers came together Saturday evening to compare notes. For Roth, the annual event allows him to keep in touch with friends and old students.

"I've had a lot of students over the years become avid birders because they followed along on these counts with me," he said. "The obsession sets in."

Comments

lounger 7 years, 5 months ago

Hornhunter dont be an a*s! This is a cool thing! We have to track the numbers-besides being outside in the fresh air is worth it! Who is abnormal again?? Maybe its you who stay inside most of the winter!!

hornhunter 7 years, 5 months ago

Boy that was a close one, I'm glad I am not a bird watcher. I'm one of the normal people. 'Birders spread out across 11 sectors of the Lawrence area for the day's scheduled count to identify different bird species and tally the total number seen and heard.' So if a certain type of bird is heard just how may would that account for and what if another group of abnormal people heard that same bird?

Joe Hyde 7 years, 5 months ago

I didn't participate this year. But I've been feeding birds in my backyard at a ground feeding station, and yesterday during the storm there were 55 mourning doves, 20 juncos, six cardinals and assorted LBJs vacuuming up my bird food like it was going out of style.

When I looked outside today just before dawn not one songbird could be seen. Seemed strange until a Sharp-shinned hawk (bigtime predator of songbirds) glided in and landed near the feeding station. He's been gone 10 minutes and now the doves and juncos are pouring in.

This is the time of year to keep bird feeders stocked if you've been feeding this deep into the season.

50YearResident 7 years, 5 months ago

We saw a Pileated Woodpecker but it was a couple of days before this bird count. It was the first one ever for us. I have photo documentation although it is poor quality as it flew across the road before I could get my camera out.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 5 months ago

I've been a birdwatcher for the better part of 40 years and a hunter for over a dozen. I might find one more rewarding than the other but I think this trash talk is juvenile. We should work to be more closely aligned, not taunt each other.

We have a lovely little red-breasted nuthatch coming to our feeder. It's been hanging out in the neighborhood for about a month.

BTW, tungsten matrix is the best not-toxic load for older shotguns. Of course I have rudely run a lot of steel through some old spanish SxSs.!~)

FormerCentralKansan 7 years, 5 months ago

How many snipes did you count? Were the Boy Scouts involved? I heard they like to hunt for snipes...

cowboy 7 years, 5 months ago

There are easily seven bazillion geese on my ponds right now

hornhunter 7 years, 5 months ago

Lounger, I'm not an A$$ as you said, it seems to be your biologist buddy who said it. And I do want to know how you can get an accurate count from their noise? Is it like the LJW takes Polls too, if a few people create all the noise the whole population must agree with them?

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