SoLanCo Christmas Bird Count!

Today I got up early and drove down to Block 18 and 20 in Southern Lancaster County for this years SoLanCo Christmas Bird Count. I started off the day meeting up with Josh Lefever and trying to call some owls in before the sun came up. It was my first time ever in this area of Lancaster and so I was quite unfamiliar with the territory…so, no owls. But! The day got better. At 7:00am, Josh and I met up with 6 other birders and we drove over to our first birding location. We walked around a corn field edge and tried to spot birds. It as freezing cold and I think that was keeping the birds quite, but as the sun got higher in the sky, birds became more active. Highlight of the first stop of was flock of 275 American Pipits that landed in the corn field and began to forage. Next stop was a trail through a bit of forest and along the edge of a field. Birds really started coming then. Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows were abundant as well as a few other species. I spotted a Pine Warbler in the top of a tree, probably our most unusual species of the day. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was also a nice treat. Across the street, we walked through a Pine Plantation and flushed out a Great Horned Owl and a male Ring-necked Pheasant simultaneously! At another stop, a beautiful juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk soared above our heads.

By 1:00pm, all the other birders were ready to call it quits, but Josh and I kept driving and walking around; trying to find more. We explored the southern areas of our blocks and added a few new species such as American Black Duck, American Kestrel, and Great Blue Heron. By 4:15pm, we decided we were done too and Josh drove back home while I went over to the Valley View Restaurant to meet up with birders from other nearby CBC blocks and tally the results. In the two blocks I was birding in, we managed to find 48 species!

American Kestrel (female) - 1 of 3 kestrels we found today

Bald Eagle (4th year) - 1 of 4 Bald Eagles we found today (the others were all juveniles)!

Great Blue Heron

Overall, it was a fantastic day of birding…even with how cold it was. Birders in other nearby blocks found some very interesting species including Short-eared Owl, Northern(?) Shrike, and Yellow-headed Blackbird, I may try to go find them tomorrow, especially the shrike. Below is the complete list of species I saw today in the two CBC blocks I birded in:
Red-tailed Hawk 9
Ring-billed Gull  389
Downy Woodpecker 8
Blue Jay 18
American Crow 15
White-breasted Nuthatch (Eastern) 9
Northern Mockingbird 11
American Pipit 275
Song Sparrow 26
White-throated Sparrow 48
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 102
Northern Cardinal 27
Red-winged Blackbird 147
Common Grackle 7
Brown-headed Cowbird 125
American Goldfinch 11
Black Vulture 9
Bald Eagle 4
Herring Gull (American)  4
Mourning Dove 170
Red-bellied Woodpecker 11
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
Fish Crow 1
Carolina Chickadee 17
Tufted Titmouse 6
Carolina Wren 8
Eastern Bluebird 12
European Starling 692
Pine Warbler 1
American Tree Sparrow 1
White-crowned Sparrow (Eastern) 15
House Finch 25
House Sparrow 98
Canada Goose 161
Ring-necked Pheasant 1
Turkey Vulture 19
Rock Pigeon 58
Great Horned Owl 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Brown Creeper 1
American Kestrel 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Horned Lark 42
American Black Duck 1
Mallard 12
Great Blue Heron 3
Cooper’s Hawk 1