Oak Bay birder leads vital Christmas count Saturday

Volunteers lend an eagle eye for the annual Christmas Bird Count

Last year’s Oak Bay team counted 4

Oak Bay’s Geoffrey Newell leads his second consecutive Christmas Bird Count this Saturday, his 14th time participating.

Newell guides walks throughout the year, through Friends of Uplands Park and the Capital Regional District, and looks forward to the holiday edition.

More than 71,000 volunteers from the U.S., Canada, Central and South America and beyond count and record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area. It’s an exercise participants say is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere.

Last year’s Oak Bay team counted 4,756 birds and a record-breaking 86 species in the ecologically important Uplands Park and Oak Bay waterfront, smashing the old record of 82. Highlights included Harris’s sparrow, white-throated sparrow, rock sandpiper, barred owl, great horned owl, northern shrike, merlin, peregrine falcon, Eurasian wigeon and western meadowlark.

Across Greater Victoria in 2015, 241 participants covered over 11,000 kilometres during their search, counting 71,761 individual birds of 141 species, the highest species total of all the Canadian counts that year.

To report birds in your yard, find a form at vicnhs.bc.ca or to join team Oak Bay, contact Newell at karatebrothers10@yahoo.ca.