4th Annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids and Youth
Thanks to all those who participated in ESC's socially distanced bird count at Brydon Lagoon. Thanks to the Langley Advance Times for featuring our bird count! Did you see the article? I attach the link here.
Despite the chilly weather we had a great turnout, with about 15 families joining us for the morning. It was a true pleasure to see familiar and new faces as well as returning counters. It was also great to see such a diversity in participating families. We had families for whom it was their first ever bird count to some serious birding families. Some families walked over, drove, while others took the bus to attend. Your enthusiasm and dedication is what keeps this count going. Thank you for continuing to support ESC's Family Explorer Days, our free family event series aimed at making science learning fun and accessible to all children.
A double thanks to all those who sent in their data for the morning and sent us photos to share. It was an unusual year at the Lagoon with Winter throwing a big party and inviting Miss Cold Temperature, and Mr Snow Frost to join. Temperature at the start of our count was -6 ℃. Despite the snow and cold temperature, we had a good year in terms of species diversity, 44 in total. We added 18 new species to our tally! Our overall individual count was about half of last year's at 492. But comparable to previous year counts. I did note last year that there were many flocks of birds, so it is possible that year had an abundance of birds. These are the fun questions we will answer with future counts.
The top 5 birds by number of individuals are: Glaucous-winged Gull, Mallard Duck, Song Sparrow, Common Starling, Black-capped Chickadee. Last year’s top 5 were: Canada Goose, Mallard Duck, Northwestern Crow, Glaucous-winged Gull, Spotted Towhee. The bird of the year this year is the Varied Thrush, a beautiful black and orange bird. Several individuals were spotted for the first time this year.
The ducks and geese, who normally dominate the Lagoon, were obviously absent in the main pond area. Occasionally, we would see a pair fly by, but we had to look very closely in the Marsh/Flood Plain areas to see them. Huddled on the stream banks, they sat in groups, biding their time until this Cold Party passes. Their usual hang out was dominated by the gulls, who had effectively surrounded the areas of the pond that were not iced over. Working together to keep other birds away from the fish and other food in the water.
Although we did see eagles, the eagle nest did not have a fledgling this year. This is the first year this happened since the count started. Eagles migrate south in fall when the artic freezes. Often, eagle pairs return to the same nest. It is possible that this pair did not make it back from their migration. It will be interesting to see if it gets occupied in future years.
Our family got to spend time watching a pileated woodpecker forage for insects under dead tree bark. The smaller birds, like sparrows, often puff themselves up when its cold. This helps trap air between their feathers, eventually the air heats up from their body heat and provides a further layer of insulation against the cold.
Each family that submitted data walked the complete route we had walked in previous years. So we counted the same areas. Most of us also saw similar birds, so in order to compile the data, I had to decide whose data I was going to use for each bird species. I decided that using the highest number of individuals observed was the best way to merge our data. So, for example, most of us saw one bald eagle, but one family was lucky enough to see 3. I used 3 as the count for Bald Eagle in the above graph. So this graph is truly the collective work of all the families that participated!
The results from our count have, once again, been submitted to Bird Studies Canada. Thank you to all those who participated, shared and made this event possible 4 years in a row. Looking forward to next year's count!
Stay tuned for information on our summer event, Paper Airplane Competition, by joining our newsletter! More information below!
Paper Airplane Competition 2021
Buckley Park, Langley
A huge thank you to the families that took time from their weekend to come out and participate in ESC's first Paper Airplane Competition for kids! We had some serious skilled participants!
A special heart felt ‘Thank You’ to each of the brave kiddos who participated. Participants ranged from 2-13 years old! Participating in a competition is more important than winning and even the best of Olympians have days where they do not perform to their skill level. So never feel bad for where you placed in a competition because what matters most is that you showed up!
The winners are:
Ayaan with Aeriest at 36.9m. This is half the distance of the world record. When Ayaan came to throw his winning throw, he decided to throw it facing backwards, his intuition and experience practicing told him that with the direction the wind was blowing, he needed to launch his airplane from a different direction. The plane flew, changed direction towards the open field behind him, hovered for what seemed like ages, but was probably about tens of seconds (a long time in paper airplane world), then a gust of wind took it and carried it out to almost to 37m! Well done Aayan, your hard work and determination paid off!
Second Place went to Timothy at 21.89. He was so nervous his tummy ached, but he persevered nonetheless, backed by his experience practicing he was able to overcome his nervousness and deliver excellent distance with his throws.
Third place went to one of the youngest participants, Sammy with NO NAME AIRPLANE at 20.23m. His focus and experience practicing showed as he patiently waited for the wind to cooperate before his long distance throws with meticulous technique.
ESC had a great time organizing this event! We hope your family will join us next year! To stay tuned for ESC Paper Airplane Competition 2022 by signing up to our newsletter!