Birding during the winter months in New Brunswick is quite different compared to the other three seasons. The following chart was posted on a birding site one time and sums up what a lot of birders feel throughout the year.
Birders here get quite enthusiastic about the Christmas Bird Count, but if I could, I would also add the Winter Bird List to the chart above.
Since 1996, Gilles Bellieveau has maintained a list of species that are found in New Brunswick during the winter specifically from December 1st to the last day in February. Each list can be found here; http://nbwinter.gbnature.com/
To date there have been 154 species found so far this year and 254 overall since 1996. These totals will go up one species by the end of today however as a Northern Lapwing was found this past week in St.Martins but was just positively ID’ today. This is the third major rarity this winter in NB, the other two being a Barn Owl and a Long-billed Curlew. I posted links below that have a picture of each of the three rarities. I found a rarity on my own a few weeks ago right here in Woodstock. A Canvasback was in the lagoon and stayed just long enough to be included for the Winter Bird List (link to my blog also below). I often get the itch to check more species off my life list so it was nice to find a lifer without even having to leave!
The Christmas Bird Count website for NB can be found here; http://users.xplornet.com/~maryspt/CBC/CBC.html and is maintained by David Christie. If you were to look under Compilers, you would see my name beside the community of Hartland. For the past few years there hasn’t been one there (it is 15 minutes north of Woodstock) so I convinced three other birders that we should go for it. We decided December 20th would be the main day and you can also keep track of different species found within the count period of December 14th to January 5th.
After seven plus hours of driving, the four of us found 29 different species within a 24 km radius. Before and since the count, another 10 species have been found so we were quite pleased that this brings us up to 39. I have some of the previous data for Hartland and the high was 36 for the day and another 4 found during the period. There are a few species that we could realistically still find and we still have a good week and a half to do so (ex. Ruffed Grouse, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Purple Finch).
The number of different species found and total overall number of individual species vary greatly from every county in the province. Some communities don’t have a count at all and others really could use more volunteers. Ideally for Hartland, I would have split the area up with another two groups of two and put more time into walking some trails. We were pretty tired near the end of the day too because we had a lot of ground to cover with just two vehicles. Hopefully next year we can do some more recruiting!
Here are photo’s of some of the species that I have found in December;
Red-tailed Hawk – I found two last week!
Pine Grosbeak – we were pleased to find two flocks in two different areas (18 in total) for the Hartland CBC
Gadwall – it was out of the ordinary for this duck to still be in Florenceville last week
Northern Shoveler – from the data I do have related to the Woodstock CBC, this is the first time one has been found at any time during the count period for this area
Red-bellied Woodpecker – I’ve had one in my yard three times this month!
Song Sparrow – this is the latest I’ve had one in my yard. It has been a mild December here. I had three one day last week.
American Robin – also the latest I’ve seen a robin in the county
Carolina Wren – still here! It stuck around long enough for the count period and just might be around on the 28th, we’ll see!
Common Redpoll – they’re back! A flock of 60 or so was in my neighbor’s tree last week
Snow Buntings – found my first flock of the winter on the 20th for the Hartland count
Rarities for December
Canvasback – found by me! http://natethebirder.blogspot.com/2014/11/canvasback.html
Long-billed Curlew – http://birdingnewbrunswick.ca/photo/long-billed-curlew-courlis?context=featured
Tufted Titmouse – http://birdingnewbrunswick.ca/forum/topics/tufted-titmouse-1
Until next time,