The 33rd annual Bishop Christmas Bird Count was held December 14, 2014, a nearly windless day, though a bit cloudy and chilly, with a low temperature of 21F and a high of 48F. An excellent turnout of 65 birders in 12 teams tallied 108 species with a total of 10,230 individual birds. Overall, bird numbers and diversity appear to have rebounded from the somewhat lower census in 2013, as shown in the table and graph below. However, waterfowl numbers were somewhat depressed, likely attributed to Crowley Reservoir being ice-free.
The count had some notable highlights. Four PURPLE FINCHES were new to the count. Purple Finch is exceptionally rare on the Eastside at any time of year and a challenge to separate from House and Cassin’s Finches. These birds were photographed in a Bishop backyard feeding in a crabapple tree. A seasonally rare DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT and two WESTERN GREBES were at Pleasant Valley Reservoir. Round Valley had a light morph adult female ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. We’ve come to expect ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRDS in small numbers in winter, but 11 set a high count for the CBC. Two COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD, less expected than Anna’s, were in Wilkerson. A female YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was photographed at the golf course. A calling PACIFIC WREN was photographed in Birchim Canyon. WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were in scattered locations, mostly in and around town, unlike MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS, which tended to open country. VARIED THRUSH are normally rare, but this fall has been an exceptional year for them throughout the west. So, a male at Plant 4 and a female behind the Forest Service/BLM building, though somewhat expected this year, were beautiful finds. A female COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, quite rare in winter, was photographed along the Owens River below Chalk Bluff. An stunning immature male AMERICAN REDSTART was photographed during count week. A CHIPPING SPARROW, still retaining quite a bit of rufous in the crown, was at Millpond. Six LARK SPARROWS were a great December find. A tan-striped morph WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was a backyard stakeout in Meadowcreek. Two fancy Dark-eyed Junco races were found, a PINK-SIDED JUNCO at Millpond, and a GRAY-HEADED JUNCO photographed at Starlite.
Many, many thanks to all the talented and generous people who contribute to the Bishop CBC! Mark your 2015 calendar for the next Bishop CBC on Saturday, December 19, 2015.
Chris Howard, Bishop CBC Compiler
Tags: crow, hawk, lark, sparrow, thrush, wren