Last weekend, February 14-17, 2014 was the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count of which I wrote about in my previous article on counting birds in Heise Park near Julian. I managed to count for at least an hour on all four days. I officially observed 84 species of birds during that time. I had one unofficial bird reported that was not accepted because it was in an unusual location.
I counted in Julian, Lake Murray, the South Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Chollas Lake and my own neighborhood. Lake Murray ended up being fifth place in the number of species reported. There were at least four or five people who counted there, but I was the only one who did a comprehensive count of most of the lake. I didn’t see anything unusual there, just the regular coots, ducks, yellow-rumped warblers, etc. However, one thing I did notice was how much fewer the numbers of birds were compared to a few months earlier. It looks like some of the birds have begun their spring migration.
At Chollas Lake, I mostly encountered domestic birds such as domestic muscovies, swan geese and graylag geese. I did find the lone wild snow goose and some wild mallards and coots. No sign of the owl that I often hear there. In my own neighborhood, not too far from Chollas Lake, I found the usual suspects of lesser goldfinch, towhees, phoebes and Anna’s hummingbirds, but also a flock of red-crowned parrots. In the South Bay, I found about 28 species with least and western sandpipers being in the thousands. I also had curlews, teal, pintails, willets, dowitchers, dunlins, and other assorted shorebirds.
Overall, people in San Diego County reported 237 species, not counting the “un-countable” species such as domestic ducks and other invasive species. Some interesting birds of note include prairie falcons, a Williamson’s sapsucker, green-tailed towhee, burrowing owls and bald eagles. San Diego County was second to Los Angeles in California in terms of number of species and checklists. California had the highest number of species and checklists reported in the entire nation.
People are still entering data and can continue to do so until February 28th. Next year’s count will run from February 13-16, 2015. You can find out more about the Great Backyard Bird Count on www.birdcount.org.