Sunday, December 16, 2012

Audubon Christmas Count

I'd heard about the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count -- a tradition that dates back more than 100 years -- but never participated.  Until yesterday, that is.

Somehow I convinced Taryn to get up at 6 a.m. and join me.  And we had the good fortune of being greeted with this sunrise shortly after we arrived at Chatfield State Park.  Really, sights like this are one of the few reasons to ever get up that early in my book.

Truthfully, Taryn and I didn't do much actual counting.  Someone else already had that role in our group of eight.  Our skills at identifying birds weren't anywhere near that of the others, either.  So that pretty much left me free to take pictures, like of this Herring Gull in the dim light of early morning.

Even well past their prime, plants can still be pretty visually interesting.  Not sure why these cattails still haven't gotten around to releasing all their seeds.

We had a fairly rare sighting of a Rusty Blackbird, which I was actually the first to notice and point out even though I didn't know what it was.  That was pretty much the only value I added to the excursion.

Something doesn't need to be rare or unique to be beautiful.  A few dead reeds sticking through some ice along the shore of the reservoir are striking in their own way.

We had another somewhat uncommon sighting of a single Snow Goose in a small group of Canada Geese.  Taryn actually thinks we saw two, but I'm pretty sure we just saw the same one twice.

An armada of American Coots by the Heron Overlook made me quite thankful I wasn't doing the counting.  I was told there were 954, which sounded about right to me.  Give or take.

Taryn and I lasted for about three hours before having to head back home to take care of other weekend business, but the rest of the group probably had at least that long still left in them.  Neighbor, group leader and birder extraordinaire Joey Kellner really made the time fun, even for a nine-year-old girl!

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