This year’s Pakenham-Arnprior Christmas Bird Count was conducted under very challenging conditions. Cold weather prior to the count resulted in much of the usually open water in the count circle freezing over. Additionally, freezing rain and at times blowing snow and ice pellets made it not only difficult to find birds but also hazardous to get around. One car went off the road early in the morning and many participants left the count early. Thus, very few of the participants were able to come to the compilation/pot luck dinner held at Lois and Eric Ridgen’s home in Arnprior. Despite the conditions and incomplete coverage of the count area (a circle with a 7.5 mile radius), the 43 field observers recorded a very respectable 52 species.
And there were several highlights. An Eastern Bluebird near Pakenham and a Hermit Thrush in Galetta were new additions to the count, bringing the cumulative species list to a remarkable 128 species. A Green-winged Teal at Arnprior constituted only the second record for the count. Record high counts of American Robins (279) and Northern Cardinals (57) were tallied. A massive crop of wild fruit this year was undoubtedly the reason for the presence of the two new species and record number of robins.
One has to wonder what else might have been found if conditions had been more favourable. But that is the nature of the Christmas Bird Count. For some years, the conditions are clear and calm. Last year the Count was held under perfect conditions: it was warm, calm, and all rivers were unfrozen. As a result, six new species were recorded, four of which (Red-throated Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Lesser Black-backed Gull) were directly associated with the water conditions. That was certainly not the case this year.
Fingers crossed that the weather gods will once again smile upon us next year!
Michael Runtz, Compiler, Pakenham-Arnprior CB
See the Pakenham-Arnprior Christmas Bird Count 2016 summary here.
See the 2015 summary here.