The 32nd annual Bishop Christmas Bird Count was held December 14, 2013, a nearly windless and sunny day with amazingly balmy temperatures (low 23F, high 62F). A record 68 birders in 12 teams tallied 103 species with a total of 8,790 individual birds. Overall, teams felt birds were fairly scarce this year – that feeling is reflected in the table and graph below. Compared to recent years, both the species count and the total individuals count were depressed. The lower totals were certainly, at least in part, due to the cold temperatures in early December. An example of the depressed numbers is found in the Orange-crowned Warbler: this year we tallied four individuals, compared to fifty-four and thirty-one in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
The count did have some notable highlights. A Greater Yellowlegs was found on the Owens River from the Highway 6 bridge (Peterson). Two Barrow’s Goldeneye were new to the count, found at the Bishop Sewer Ponds (Heindel). Three Double-crested Cormorants were at Pleasant Valley Reservoir (Mazza). A flock of white geese including fifty-two Snow Geese and three Ross’s Geese were over Round Valley, helping set the new Snow Goose high count (Dunn/House). An immature Black-crowned Night-Heron was at Pleasant Valley Campground during count week (Parker). There was one Rough-legged Hawk in Round Valley (Dunn/House). We established the new high count for Red-shouldered Hawks at twenty-six. For once, there was no shortage of Greater Roadrunners, with four tallied. A record twelve Great-horned Owls were found. A Western Screech-Owl was in Finkbeiner Forest (Pandolfino/Kelley/Vocelka). A female Williamson’s Sapsucker was found during count week in a downtown Bishop backyard (Behr). Two Merlins were of the medium-dark race, columbarius. Prairie Falcon was missed on count day, but found during count week. No Western Scrub-Jays were tallied on count day or count week. Hermit Thrushes made a good showing, establishing the new high count at five. Western Bluebirds were in the count circle during count week, but missed count day. A meager four Orange-crowned Warblers were found. Vesper Sparrow made an appearance count week, but was missed on count day. Several teams tallied good-old-fashioned “Sage Sparrows” and a couple teams had good scope views and enough confidence to determine they had the newly split Bell’s Sparrow. Sagebrush Sparrow, the other “Sage Sparrow,” was not recorded, but expected to winter in the circle. We struck out on Fox Sparrows altogether, though two Golden-crowned Sparrows were found along the Owens River (Santiago/Phillips). One of the rarer Dark-eyed Junco races, the “Pink-sided” was encountered in Round Valley (Dunn/House). Cassin’s Finches were nowhere to be found. Great-tailed Grackles no longer appear to winter in Bishop.
Many, many thanks to all the talented and generous people who contribute to the Bishop CBC! Mark your 2014 calendar for the next Bishop CBC on Sunday, December 14, 2014.
Chris Howard, Bishop CBC Compiler
Tags: crow, hawk, heron, sparrow, thrush, warbler