Christmas Bird Count

I finally participated in my first Christmas Bird Count, something I have wanted to do ever since I read George Plimpton’s essay (Tis-lick Goes the Henslow’s Sparrow) several decades ago.

I was fortunate in that my first count was at Badlands National Park, a place of incomparable beauty and majesty. Am I overwrought? Perhaps. But only a little. Hey, it was a brilliant (if cold) sunny winter’s day. Try to dial it back; not possible.

I spent the day in the company of Joci and Jenn, birders extraordinaire. After 7 hours of driving and hiking around the Badlands,  I’m home and finally warmed after having all or parts of me really, really cold all day long. I’m also tired and my cough which was an annoyance yesterday is threatening to blossom into something more worrisome.

But it was worth it. Every single second.

I’ll write more at a future date. For now, I share these photos. Judging by the number of photos I took of a snow dusted Badlands there is no limit to the number of pictures I will take trying to capture their beauty and awesomeness (old school awesomeness, when it still meant awe inspiring).

You will only see one picture of a bird, partly because when an interesting bird opportunity presented itself I was looking through binos, partly because my camera isn’t a high end one, but mostly because I’m not that good of a photographer. You have to know your stuff to take good pictures of birds.

Edited to add: Final results from Nancy. Pictures below.

For the last day of 2014, seven observers in four parties contributed to a record-breaking Badlands Christmas Count. We recorded 37 species, breaking the previous record of 36 species in 1990. The list is below. We did not technically add any new birds to the count, but had  two species (Mountain Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing) that previously had only been seen during count week. We also had record high numbers of  Sharp-tailed Grouse, Prairie Falcons, Northern Shrikes, Horned Larks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Western Meadowlarks, and House Finches. And the Badlands scenery, as usual, was sublime.

Northern Harrier (1)

Northern Goshawk (1) – female devouring a Sharp-tailed grouse

Rough-legged Hawk (23)

Ferruginous Hawk (1)

Red-tailed Hawk (2)

Golden Eagle (3)

Prairie Falcon (4)

American Kestrel (1)

Ring-necked Pheasant (12)

Sharp-tailed Grouse (113)

Wild Turky (4)

Rock Pigeon (110)

Eurasian Collared-dove (22)

Great Horned Owl (1)

Eastern Screech-owl (1)

Northern Flicker (4)

Downy Woodpecker (5)

Hairy Woodpecker (3)

Horned Lark (763)

Black-billed Magpie (9)

American Crow (77)

Black-capped Chickadee (11)

White-breasted Nuthatch (4)

Townsend’s Solitaire (4)

American Robin (37)

Mountain Bluebird (3) – one male, two females

Northern Shrike (5)

European Starling (91)

Cedar Waxwing (2)

American Tree Sparrow (116)

Dark-eyed Junco (15)

Lapland Longspur (82)

Red-winged Blackbird (20)

Western Meadowlark (5)

House Finch (4)

American Goldfinch (60)

House Sparrow (47)

Total Species: 37

Total Individuals: 1667