For 2007, the eight Christmas
Bird Counts in the corridor netted an overall satisfactory result despite
Whistler’s downturn in numbers of species seen. In fact, that was the story
almost everywhere except Lillooet, which had less birds but more species in
their count. And that was the usual picture elsewhere throughout B.C. except
Nanaimo, Duncan and Osoyoos, which enjoyed near record counts for numbers and
The villain was probably the
stormy weather of early December which drove many species south of the border.
The following stats were
registered in the Sea to Sky corridor: Lower Howe Sound – 15,934 birds, a low
76 species; Squamish – 11,902 birds and 72 sp; Whistler – 2,659 birds and 42
sp; Pemberton/Mt. Currie – 2,883 birds and 59 sp; D’Arcy/Birken – 964 birds and
44 sp; Lillooet – 2,066 birds and 65 sp; Hat Creek Valley (Upper) – 581 birds
and 37 sp;
Creek – 3,537 birds and 41 sp. Species counts include those seen on three days
either side of count day, which for Whistler was nine, and in the case of Lower
Howe Sound, nil. That is, Whistler and Hat Creek fared the worst on count day!
In comparison, the number of
species seen throughout the corridor was 132, one more than last year, and
40,502 counted birds which was almost a whopping 8,000 more than year ago!
Over the transect, from
tidewater to interior sage brush country, there were nine species common to all
counts, one more than last year: Great blue heron (a high of 35 at Squamish),
Downy woodpecker (10 at Squamish), Hairy woodpecker (11 at Lillooet), Northern
flicker (64 at Lower Howe Sound), Common raven (348 at Cache Creek’s
landfill!), Black capped chickadee (413 at Lower Howe Sound), American dipper
(45 at Lillooet), Spotted towhee (244 at Lower Howe Sound), and Song sparrow
(166 at Lower Howe Sound). Surprisingly, of the eight in common last year, four
were not repeats this year! Bald eagle, Steller jay, Red-breasted nuthatch and
starlings were absent at one or more counts. On the opposite end of the
distribution scene, every count had at least one species not seen elsewhere.
Again, Lower Howe Sound led the parade with 22 – marine ducks, grebes,
cormorants, shorebirds, alcids, Hermit thrush, Anna’s hummingbird, Townsend’s
warbler and a way-out-of-place Great gray owl which inhabits the interior of
the province, easily their bird of the day. For Squamish it was four species of
gulls (Ring-billed being the highlight) out of the thousands counted at the
dump, a Lesser scaup duck, and a small race of Canada goose, or Cackling goose.
Whistler chipped in with the usual White-tailed ptarmigan and a rarely seen
Northern goshawk, while Pemberton served up their first record of a wintering Long-eared
owl. D’Arcy had the only Pied-billed grebe, and a much rarer Eared grebe –
about the only one in the southwestern corner of the province. Lillooet, in dry
belt country, had eight uniques: Golden eagle, Wilson’s snipe, Northern
saw-whet owl, a first Black-backed woodpecker, Pygmy nuthatch, Mountain
bluebird, White-throated sparrow and Mourning doves. Hat Creek had four good
ones, and the best was a Northern hawk owl as well as Blue (sooty) grouse,
White-breasted nuthatch and Snow bunting. Finally, Ashcroft had the only
Kestrel and a very surprising flock of Chipping sparrows which was their bird
of the day (not seen in many counts elsewhere in B.C.).