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Bird count released

Local birders, and even a few new faces, flocked together recently to count their winged friends in the sky, trees, land and on the water.

A total of 94 species were counted during Vernon’s 57th annual Christmas Bird Count Dec. 17.

“We had an excellent day for birding,” said event organizer Erin Nelson, thankful for the sun and little wind.

A total of 52 people attended the count, making up 20 groups to cover the different areas of Greater Vernon.

“We even had about five or six that have never been on a count before so that was nice.”

The only down side is neither the dipper or the kill deer were spotted, which the team was wanting to see.

But a rarity was spotted in the area - the hermit thrush in Polson Park by Don Wilson, who was awarded the Rare Bird Trophy.

“We shouldn’t have saw it, but it was here and it was supposed to be in Florida,” said Nelson.

Runner up for the Rare Bird Trophy was Don Cecile who found an Iceland gull at the mouth of Vernon Creek in the Okanagan Landing area. Honourable mention went to Candis at her feeder for the chestnut-backed chickadee, Chris Siddle and Gary Davidson for the rock wren and Pat McAllister and Peter Blokker for the three-toed woodpecker/gray jay.

The most numerous birds counted were the European starling, 3,298, followed by mallards, 2,015, the California quail, 1,435 and Canada geese, 1,390.

Among the total of 16,119 birds counted were three golden eagles, 20 great blue heron and one great horned owl.

To spot each of these birds, the volunteer groups put a total of 123 hours in, travelled 502.5 kilometres by car, 98 kilometres on foot and even 15 kilometres on bike.

Nelson is still looking for backyard feeders to contact him with numbers at 545-6878 or at the Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary at 542-5122.

“Even though people may not know the birds I can get brochures and help them ID the birds.”

The tentative date for this year’s count is Dec. 16.

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