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Blustery day for Christmas bird counters on waterfront

Black turnstones, cormorants, surf scoters among feathered friends spotted

It was a windy day on the White Rock waterfront Thursday (Dec. 28), where a group of bird watchers were busy counting the feathered, flying animals with a purpose.

They were recording what kinds of birds they saw as well as counting their numbers, as part of the annual White Rock/Surrey/Langley Christmas Bird Count, an early-winter bird census by the National Audubon Society.

Conducted with the help of more than 70,000 volunteers across B.C., Canada, the U.S. and many other countries in the Western Hemisphere, the Thursday count was just one of many conducted for this year’s total tally.

Despite blustery winds and a high tide, bird counter Ian Burgess noted that black turnstones were among the species spotted, as well as a red-breasted merganser, surf scoters, white-winged scoters, cormorants, horned grebes, gulls and pigeons.

READ ALSO: ‘Encouraging’ Christmas bird count tallies 58,000 birds, 114 species

Angela Bond, another counter, spotted a Kingfisher on the breakwater rocks at the end of the pier.

“It’s unusual to see one in this setting,” she said, noting that species usually prefers wetland areas as opposed to the ocean.

Counters were busy throughout the day, working in organized groups but also, from their backyard bird feeders. They will report their findings to event organizer Gareth Pugh when the count is concluded.

The information collected by thousands of count volunteer participants forms one of the world’s largest sets of wildlife survey data, with the results used by conservation biologists, environmental planners, and naturalists to assess the population trends and distribution of birds.

Numbers are usually totalled within a week or two of each count.

Tricia Weel

About the Author: Tricia Weel

I’ve worked as a journalist in community newspapers from White Rock to Parksville and Qualicum Beach, to Abbotsford and Surrey.
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