Christmas bird count
In freezing temperatures with snowflakes falling, Lawrence-area bird lovers set out with their binoculars for the 2007 annual Christmas bird count, a National Audubon Society program.
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."