A warm and sunny day saw 17 fans of feathers head out for the 2015 Oak Bay Christmas Bird Count, under the lead of Geoffrey Newell.
The team counted 4,756 birds and a record-breaking 86 species in the amazing and ecologically important Uplands Park and Oak Bay waterfront. This smashes the old record from last year 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.
“The results of these counts show important trends in bird populations,” said Newell. “In B.C., swans, geese and ducks have overall increased significantly in the last few years. Loons, grebes, cormorants and gulls, on the other hand, have sharply declined. This is largely due to the over-fishing of herring in the past.”
Shorebirds have also decreased in recent years, but the numbers were surprisingly high for the Oak Bay count. Dec. 19 tallies included 221 Black-bellied Plovers, 165 Dunlin, 64 Surfbirds, 57 Black Oystercatchers and 44 Black Turnstones.
“Oak Bay would be aptly named The Shorebird Capital of Vancouver Island as it is home to the only large wintering population of these birds in the region,” Newell said.
In the final minutes of the count, two team members seemingly conjured up an important missing bird, a Peregrine Falcon. The team celebrated with a high fives all around and shouts of “Way to go Team Oak Bay.”