The smell of coffee woke us early. After a quick few sips and before the sun had crept over the ridge of hills, Patty Horner, Marie and Jerry Swenson, CD Scott, Pam and Jack Stewart wrapped in coats and scarves, ventured out to begin the 2016 Buffalo Point Christmas Bird Count. Small birds fluttered in the shrubbery close to the Harp House at Toney Bend where five of us had spent the night. We counted numerous Juncos and Cardinals as we walked the mowed path through native grasses that CD had planted in the former cow pasture. Song and White throated Sparrows and a difficult to identify Swamp Sparrow popped up then quickly disappeared into the grasses, and Woodpeckers tapped on the scattered trees. As the day brightened, two Harriers glided across the valley, their white rumps obvious, and a flock of 60 ducks flew overhead with no field marks visible. Our group was joined by Janet Nye and Nancy and Pete Deisch as we scouted field and horizon with binoculars, then returned to the house for breakfast.
Part of our group, including Peggy and Tom Krohn, had gathered at Toney Bend for supper the previous evening, December 13th, to be ready for an early morning start, and to listen for night birds. Folders with information from Christmas Bird Counts from 20 or more years back had been found, stowed away by the Park, and it was interesting to note the birds seen and names of people who had participated on those counts. These days we mainly find these records on line.
Across the nation the Audubon CBC has been done for 117 consecutive years, the oldest Citizen Science project. Today counts occur all over the US and in other parts of the world. Collected and collated by National Audubon Society, the data has provided information on changes in bird population and habitat, health, and range of our birds. Preset circular territories with a radius of 7.5 miles can be counted any day within the count period, December 14th – January 5th. Interested persons are invited to participate, learn and be a part of this Citizen Science. Following breakfast our group split to cover the several routes within the Buffalo Point count area. Susie and Jim Liles and Alan and Teri Gregory also helped survey the area.
Our combined tally for the day came to 53 species of birds.
The Buffalo Point CBC is sponsored by Buffalo National River Partners, and this year was organized by Jack Stewart with help from BNR staff.
Submitted by Pam Stewart