The 42nd SCNWA CBC was held on Jan 1, 2022. The weather was above freezing, starting with a high of about 5C and moderate NW winds, but dropping to almost freezing by late afternoon, with a bit of drizzle starting in mid-afternoon. There was no ice anywhere, which resulted in waterfowl, one of the main groups of species on this count, being widespread. The upside of no snow made finding Snowy Owls a lot easier than usual, resulting in a record year for that species.
Due to the continuing hunting season, significant private hunt clubs and associated wetland areas were not accessible. Nonetheless we managed to document 24 species of waterfowl plus various other waterbirds.
Fifteen observers and one feeder watcher documented a respectable total of 90 species, a bit lower than our record of 93 species. Our most recent 10-year average is 82.6 species. There were no count week species for this year.
Two new species were added to the overall count list: one each of Sora and Orange-crowned Warbler, bringing the cumulative total for this count to 141 species seen on count day, plus two other count week species. Unfortunately the Sage Thrasher seen for several weeks within the count circle not that long ago, has been missing since late November.
There were several new high counts (previous high):
Ring-necked Duck--395 (215)
Sandhill Crane--25 (10)
Double-crested Cormorant--30 (25)
Great Blue Heron--89 (44)
Snowy Owl--23 (18)
Tied high counts included:
Greater White-fronted Goose--5
Notable misses included Redhead, Hairy Woodpecker, Lapland Longspur and Rusty Blackbird.
For those interested in the American Crow, which for decades has established one of the largest Canadian winter roosts in the city of Chatham, the official numbers were quite a bit lower than they really were. As in the past few years, for various reasons, we have not done a day break count as the crows are exiting their night-time roost, but rely on what is seen during the day. Unfortunately for the accuracy of numbers, we only tallied a little over 40000 birds. In reality, there is probably closer to 100,000 or more birds roosting, but due to the weather and food available in fields this year, many of the birds spend the day well to the southeast of Chatham, which is outside the official count circle. And due to the deteriorating weather late in the day when the birds normally return to the roost, some of the birders had finished their territory and returned home.
Allen Woodliffe, Compiler