Preliminary results of the 2014 annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count indicate a rather ordinary count of species censused. About 40-plus so far, with several reports yet to wend their way to Susan Marsh, compiler. Susan predicts the final count will be in the lower 50s. That’s a typical number of species to attempt to overwinter in Jackson Hole.
Susan Marsh observed that so far no surprising bird was found. Instead, most observers remarked that Saturday, Dec. 20, was unusually quiet in the local bird world. In the sections of the count circle my little group covered it was really difficult to find any small perching birds at all. Very quiet. Noticeable and surprising.
The Christmas Bird Counts (now over 20,000 count circles) are often held up as the pioneering, most successful, best citizen science effort. One hundred and fourteen years on. Also not an easy citizen science effort, because weather variables can play a huge part.
Years of data from traditional count areas serve to moderate census data, become useful and reduce errors. There may be 51 birds on this year’s count and it’s good, but if 510 show up one year, better check that out.
Thanks to everybody who participated this year and especially to Susan Marsh and Susan Patla for all they do. Ho ho ho.
So. Did you get your desired drone for Christmas?
I got a finger-mounted surface-to-air missile. Meet you on the slopes.
While we are there we can discuss the future to befall in 2015. Somehow, 2015 is nigh upon us. Amazingly, we have gone through 14 years of a new century in no time. Perhaps we’d prefer not to try to imagine, let alone predict, what might happen in 2015. 2014 was full of unpleasant, even unsavory, events. And without bringing up politics. Who would have thought it would be discovered that repeated blows to one’s head could result in concussions? Or that same-sex marriage could lead to same-sex divorce?
I find myself in a kind of reflective mood — or I’d be if I could remember things better. Accuracy’d be nice too, but too much to expect. Turns out I really can’t remember much about the beginning weeks of 2014. Probably it’s best. I do know I didn’t make any resolutions. Gave that up long ago. Never kept them, so why pretend?
If that’s not a grand rationalization, I don’t know one.
As I scribble this, I expect newspapers and TV and such will review 2014: New Year’s Day is tomorrow if you’re reading this in our Wednesday, Dec. 31, issue. If you’re anything like me you will be abashed at what you have forgotten. Ahh. Maybe relieved; lots of stuff happening was not swell.
Field notes: This is shaping up to be an unusual winter in these parts. But what is really new about that? More winter birds are coming into town; evening grosbeaks and rosy finches. Both species often move about in large groups. Bruce Hayse is welcoming about 60 evening grosbeaks and several hundred rosy finches. A small number of the finches are black rosy finches, the majority are gray-crowned.
Observations about black rosy finches in early winter in Jackson Hole would be welcome.
There appears to be a dearth of wintering hawks this season, at least so far. Quite a difference from last winter’s large numbers of rough-legged hawks. Chickadees, however, seem to be all over the valley.
Moose seem to have left high elevations perhaps a little earlier than usual and come to lower elevations, even close to human habituation.
The regular monthly meeting of the Jackson Hole Bird and Nature Club on Jan. 13 will commence at 6 p.m. in Teton County Library. Observations, socializing, review of Christmas Bird Count and a presentation by Corinna Rigenos of Teton Research Institute of Teton Science Schools.
Corinna will describe activity by certain ants in Kenya as they go about saving trees from elephants while now themselves newly threatened. Come on down.
Note: Teton Valley, Idaho’s Audubon Bird Count will be held Saturday. Please contact Susan Patla, 413-1222, for any assistance or to volunteer.