By Dorothy Kings
The Saugeen Field Naturalists Club sponsors the count known officially as the Hanover-Walkerton Count.
The first Christmas bird count, started by Frank Chapman along with 27 other conservationists, was a way of protesting the traditional bird shoot. Instead of hunting birds they counted them, on Christmas Day, 1900. Thus, a new tradition was born and has been maintained into its second century by the National Audubon Society in the U.S.A. and by Bird Studies Canada across our country.
Ornithologists and conservationists have accepted the CBC data, as the best tool available for assessing long-term trends in the early winter bird populations of North America. The cumulative historical data are now on-line and available for personal and scientific research. Results of previous counts may be found at the following website: http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/hr/. Find our count by entering the letters ONHW. (** According to our club records the first Hanover-Walkerton count was held in 1976; the Audubon Society records for the HW count begin in 1977.) For a summary of our count site you can also review the data on this web site – just click “Count Data” to go there now.
How does a count work? Each count must take place within a designated 24-km diameter circle. The HW-CBC circle has its centre in the hamlet of Pearl Lake. The circle is divided into seven areas of varying sizes and shapes largely dependent on the local geography and accessibility. A count must be conducted in a 24-hour period between December 14 and January 5 inclusive. Our count runs from 8:00 A.M. until dusk except for owling, which may be done earlier or later.
Birds must be seen within the circle and may be identified by sight or by sound. Observers may travel on foot, skis, snowshoes by car, on bicycle, etc. For the most part, our observers work in pairs or in groups, seldom alone. This allows novice birders to gain worthwhile experience. Lunch is taken in the field as planned by each group leader. Some may have easy access to a restaurant; others may need to carry lunches with them. Prior to the count, each leader will contact their group members with details regarding meeting place, lunch and other information.
Following the day’s birding the teams will gather at a prearranged site for camaraderie, dinner and to tabulate the data – the Count-up!
Each participant will be asked to pay $ 5 to register and take part in the day, and to pay for their own dinner. The registration fees are forwarded to Bird Studies Canada to defray count costs.
CBCs are special days. They are time for serious observation of birds coupled with the making of and renewing of friendships with others who share a similar interest. They are days that prove memorable through the years to come.
To take part in the Hanover-Walkerton count, please call Dorothy Kings at 519-389-5387; leave a name and number for a return call.