By now, surely everyone must know there is a Christmas Bird Count in Whistler scheduled for, as usual, December 14th — the first day that national authorities will let us have the count.
The longer we wait, the fewer birds there are around, as waterways freeze up and the birds vamoose for warmer and more nutritional habitats.
Again, we will try to launch nine field parties located south to north as follows:
• Alpha Lake to Cheakamus Crossing and Callaghan Olympic Park
• Whistler South Side to Wayside Park
• Alta Vista — Brio — Blueberry and Whistler Cay
• Whistler Mtn.
• Nesters-White Gold
• Whistler Village and Blackcomb Benchlands
• Blackcomb Mtn.
• Alta Lake Road and Alpine Meadows
• Rainbow-Emerald-Wedge Woods to Shadow Lake
It would be a pleasant surprise to have the nine parties with knowledgeable leaders, which has not been the case for a few years due to old-age attrition among our ranks.
Equally important, are those house-bound people who have back yard (or front) bird feeders. Each year some of the highest species counts are from feeders.
The annual saga always begins three days before count day to see what is around and concludes three days afterwards — to see what we might have missed on count day!
The long-term averages say we should see about 40 species on count day and 2,457 birds, and the three days of pre- and post-count say that another five species will turn up.
Our only year of seeing every species to be seen on a count day was in 1996!
So, how you can help out? If you know most of the winter-time species, you are needed as a party leader — don't hesitate, just do it!
If you like walking around and have sharp eyes and well-functioning ears, you are still needed.
The party leaders do not have eyes in the back of their heads.
If you have a bird feeder and are not into walking about, you are needed on yard patrol; we have only seven or eight feeder watchers each year and many subdivisions have yet to yield a feeder report in any year.
After the day's work is completed, everyone shows up at Karl Ricker's house with data in hand and a healthy appetite for pizza and several refreshments. Yes, there is heated seating at his fireplace. The evening count down is a two-hour party.
So, give Joan Plonske (604-938-0623) a call if you can help the Whistler Naturalists out. There are 85 to 90 communities doing the same thing elsewhere in British Columbia. Those nearby are Squamish: (Marcia Danielson: 604-898-9420) on Dec. 18; Pemberton-Mt. Currie (Hugh Naylor: 604-894-6402) on Dec. 15, and D'arcy-Devine (Dan Cumming: 604-452-3453) on Dec. 16.
All are to be recommended if birding is your interest, and all have great count down parties!
See you there.