Saturday, February 14, 2009

Great Backyard Bird Count 2009 - day 1 report

My first day of the GBBC got off to a slow start, but the second half of the day proved to be better.

I chose 2 different spots from which to count on Friday. One was a local park on the south side of Athens, very close to the Ohio University campus, and across the road a bit from the Hocking River. My second spot was the Athens Public Library, located on the east side of Athens and also very near the Hocking River.

Richland Avenue park, south side Athens

Dave joined me at the park, where we had our lunch and did some birding. Unfortunately, the birding was nearly non-existent. We stayed at the park for 40 minutes, and I only counted 4 birds. Of those 4, I only actually laid eyes on 1 of them - the rest were ID'd by ear only. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed. I was also just flat-out surprised, as I didn't expect it to be such a dead zone. Plenty of trees around, a freshwater source nearby. Perhaps all the traffic had something to do with it? This park is located near a very high-traffic intersection, one of the main "entrances" to the city.

Richland Ave park

intersection of Richland Ave and State Rt 682, Athens, OH

My second location at the Library was much more subdued in terms of noise and traffic, but much more plentiful in terms of birds. The library is in a residential area, and the general area where I was counting is full of deciduous and coniferous trees, once again with a freshwater source nearby. When I decided on a spot from which to conduct my count, I was immediately rewarded with modest flocks of Robins and Starlings digging for worms and splashing in a puddle. I stayed at this location for only 25 minutes and counted 7 species of birds, and 57 individual birds. I was pretty happy with that.

Athens Public Library

Tree line adjacent to Athens Public Library

Looking out toward the Hocking River from the library

Count for Richland Ave park:
Northern Cardinal - heard only (1)
Chickadee - heard only (1)
Song Sparrow - heard only (1)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (1)

Count for Athens Public Library:
Turkey Vulture - flyover (7)
American Robin (15)
Northern Cardinal (2)
Northern Mockingbird (1)
European Starling (30)
Carolina Wren - heard only (1)
Song Sparrow - heard only (1)

As of this writing (on Saturday afternoon), the count for my own backyard is going very well so far today. We've got some outings planned for a bit later this afternoon, which I will report on later. Until then, happy counting!


RuthieJ said...

Well, I'm glad to hear you had a pretty good first day of the GBBC Heather. I can't believe all that snow has melted already. It's looking pretty nice there.

Kallen305 said...

Heather, I was running into the same problems as you as far as areas devoid of bird activity. What I found was fresh water rivers or streams were much more successful than ponds that were semi frozen.

I feel your pain though. You actually did pretty well and I am super impressed you can ID so many species by ear!

Kelly said...

...great day for your count! Liked seeing photos of where you were birding. Athens is so beautiful. Last year I went to the ice rink on campus there for my son's hockey game (I wanted to sneak out and do some birding, but I remained the devoted mom and watched the game).

Heather said...

Ruthie - We had some pretty warm weather for a stretch (although it's only in the 20's right now!), so all that snow finally went away!

Kallen - Isn't it frustrating when you go somewhere expecting there to be a lot of birds, and then there aren't? The ID'ing by ear has come with LOTS of practice, BTW.

Kelly - Thanks, I enjoyed sharing photos of where I went. Athens is indeed very beautiful.