Port Orford Christmas Bird Count Sunday, December 28, 2003
By Jim Rogers
The weather outside was frightful and sitting in front of the fire would have been delightful, but on December 28th 2003, over a dozen hardy birders braved the wind, rain, driving sand and sleet to enjoy a day of Christmas Bird Counting. While the 123 species found was one of our lower counts, those Puritans among us can look at the day as penance for the gorgeous day and 145 species we enjoyed last year!
One interesting aspect of the hard south wind was that there were large flocks of gulls on the pastures and beach and very few over the ocean, offering an opportunity to get a fairly accurate count of how many gulls are inhabiting the area west of highway 101 from Langlois to Rocky Point. We counted about 7,000. Most were Western and Glauoous.winged gulls, but there were over 1,000 Herring gulls along with a few of the Thayers that often accompany them. We counted 44 of the beautiful little tern-like Bonaparte's gulls in the Elk River estuary along with 53 "cute" Mew gulls, a couple of Ring-billed gulls (rarely seen near the ocean), 68 California gulls (common here in the winter), 30 Herring, 2 Thayer, 130 Western, and 97 Glaucous winged gulls -- a typical winter collection in north Curry. Up in the Floras Lake-New River country we found over 2 thousand gulls encompassing most of the above Sixes, plus a very rare Glaucous gull where New river sometimes breaks into the sea.
We found three times as many Starlings this year as last (423 last year, 131 this year). Their numbers seem to fluctuate between the hundreds and the thousands. The Robin numbers were down from 4641 last year to 1670 this year. However, this year's count was more typical of most of our counts.
On a sad note,we didn't find any Harlequin Ducks. During the first years of the' POCBC (late 70's: early 80's) we used to find a couple dozen along the rocky headlands of ' Rocky Point, the Heads, Cape Blanco and Blacklock. Now it's usually one or none. They're one of our coolest birds! It's quite possible that the birds that winter(ed) here all nested in the same location and that the mountain stream in which they nest bas been rendered unusable from a flood or development, or logging, or suction--dredge mining or ? Harlequins have very high breeding site fidelity.
We didn't do any owling this year due to heavy rain. Thus we missed the resident Pygmy, Saw-whet, Screech, Barn. Barred and Great-horned owls and possibly a rare Burrowing, Short-eared, Long-eared or Spotted Owl.
I'll send a copy of the results of this year's (2003) count to all participants, and leave copies around town (Library, Seaweed, DFZ), but if anyone else would like a copy, call me at 332-2555.
Kalmiopsis Audubon Society
P.O. Box 1265
Port Orford, OR 97465
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