Christmas is for counting the birds

Published on Wed, Dec 19, 2012
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Braving blustery weather, a group of 25 birders from both sides of the border joined members of the North Cascades Audubon Society for their monthly walk at Semiahmoo Spit on December 1. The walk, led by Paul Woodcock, president of the North Cascades Audubon Society, was a preview of the annual International Audubon Christmas Bird Count that will take place on Saturday, December 30.

Despite the inclement weather, birders managed to catch a glimpse of more than 30 species of birds around the mile-long 
spit. It is expected that they will be able to see close to 60 species around Drayton Harbor and Blaine during the count.

This will be the 113th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The count is held every December across the U.S. as well as internationally through the Audubon’s partnerships with such groups as Bird Studies Canada. 

The results of the bird count provide data for the winter range of birds as well as helping to spot trends in bird populations. On a local level, the bird count on December 30 will take place on both sides of the border and will be hosted by the White Rock and Surrey Naturalists’ Society, which has encompassed the Blaine area as part of their count since 1976.  

“The birds aren’t confined by borders as both Semiahmoo Bay and Drayton Harbor are designated as Important Birding Areas (IBA), [which identifies] these areas internationally as essential bird habitat. We are looking for as many pairs of eyes as possible to participate on both sides of the border,” said Gareth Pugh, who is a Surrey resident. Pugh will lead the teams south of the border and hopes to have at least four teams of four or more volunteers to cover the Blaine area.  

Participants do not need to be expert birders, but merely keen enough and dressed warm enough to birdwatch all day, if possible. Those who cannot attend for the whole day are also valuable additions to the team. 

If you wish to participate from home, you can observe the birds that visit your feeder or allow volunteers to observe your feeder and report the count to Pugh before 5 p.m. on December 30.

Volunteers counting south of the border will meet Saturday, December 30 at 7:30 a.m. inside Big Al’s Diner at 234 D Street. The count will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. If you are interested in participating or would like more information, contact Gareth Pugh in White Rock at 604/576-6831 or Debbie Harger in Blaine at 360/543-9982.