Winter Bird Count Numbers

Today a talented crowd of birders woke up early (as birders do) to participate in Sound View’s first ever bird count. We were lucky to not see a drop of rain and had a wonderful time watching birds. I (Nancyrose) learned a lot from their knowledge and saw so much more than usual through their powerful spotting scopes! I hope to make the bird count something that happens every season, whether with visiting students, summer camps, or family camps, so that we can keep track of the changes in species throughout the year.

If you’d like to schedule a birdwatching experience on your next retreat or for your school group, let us know! We have enough binoculars for a group of 15 people.

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We started out in the forest, where knowing how to bird by ear is a must. I am still only able to distinguish the most obvious bird sounds one from another, but my companions were able to clue me in on what we were hearing. I have a lot to learn!

We heard the following birds in the woods. The only ones we actually saw of this bunch were the raven, a junco, and a few robins.

Pacific Wren — photo by Cameron Eckert, https://www.allaboutbirds.org

Pacific Wren — photo by Cameron Eckert, https://www.allaboutbirds.org

Song Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Bewick’s Wren

Pacific Wren  

Robin

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Black-capped Chickadee

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Raven

Junco

My companions grabbed their spotting scopes and we headed down to the beach, where we finally started seeing some birds rather than just hearing them! The beach is the best place to bird with visiting students and summer campers, because you can see so many species without trees in the way. It seemed like every time we looked, there was another species of birds - we saw all three species of mergansers, two types of loons and grebes, and many surf scoters, which I had never seen before. We also spotted two seals observing us curiously from the water and a passel of sea lions lounging on the channel marker, as usual.

Male Surf Scoter — photo by Brian Sullivan, https://www.allaboutbirds.org

Male Surf Scoter — photo by Brian Sullivan, https://www.allaboutbirds.org

My favorite sight of the day was a floating log on which a great blue heron and two, then three, cormorants were sitting. The log was floating at least 300 feet offshore, but they seemed content to sit there and let the tide take them where it may. It was probably a great spot to search for lunch! The cormorants, of course, had their wings stretched out to the side in that unmistakable M shape to dry them out. Cormorant feathers are not water-repellent like most water birds, so they have to dry them out in the sun (that is, on the rare occasions when it comes out here in the Pacific Northwest!) The full list of birds seen at the beach is below, with approximate numbers.

Spotted Towhee - 2

Common Merganser - 7

Red-breasted Merganser - 4

Hooded Merganser - 1

Surf Scoter - 25

Kingfisher - 1

Bald Eagle - 2

Pigeon - 2

Great Blue Heron - 1

Brandt’s Cormorant - 3

Double-crested Cormorant - 2

Male Bufflehead —— photo by Liron Gerstman, https://www.allaboutbirds.org

Male Bufflehead —— photo by Liron Gerstman, https://www.allaboutbirds.org

Common Goldeneye - 15

Bufflehead - 9

Common Loon - 1

Red-throated Loon - 2

Red-necked Grebe - 1

Horned Grebe - 4

Plus lots of gulls!

Northwestern Salamander

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We found another little-seen creature at Sound View the other day when our AmeriCorps NCCC Pacific Region team members turned over a fallen log. This Northwestern Salamander was living underneath, so after taking a few pictures we put its house back in place. Northwestern Salamanders are less commonly seen at camp than Rough-Skinned Newts because they live underground and under rotting logs.

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