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Sequim-Dungeness Christmas Bird Count Results
by Bob Boekelheide 

Once again, the Sequim-Dungeness CBC set the standard for Washington CBCs. On December 18, 2017, our valiant group of 116 field observers and 32 feeder watchers found a grand total of 143 species within the Sequim-Dungeness circle. The species count is right about average for the last 25 years, but quite a bit lower than our all-time record of 154 species set in 2015. We have equaled or surpassed 140 species in 19 of the last 20 years, a remarkable record for a Washington CBC. The total number of individual birds this year was 59,642, significantly lower than the all-time high count of 85,777 seen in 2011 (see CBC results table).

The most abundant species this year, as usual, was American Wigeon, with 10,621 total. Other abundant species, in decreasing order of abundance, were American Robin (6936), Mallard (6014), Glaucous-winged/Olympic Gull (2724), Dunlin (2420), Dark-eyed Junco (2129), Bufflehead (2042), European Starling (1504), Brewer’s Blackbird (1355), and Red-winged Blackbird (1275). Notice all these species form large flocks, hence their abundance. These top-ten species comprised about 62 percent of all the birds seen on our count.

Species with particularly high counts this year, either all-time records or close to it, were California Gull, Anna’s Hummingbird, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Merlin, Hutton’s Vireo, Fox Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Purple Finch, and Common Redpoll. For the seventh year in a row Barred Owl was the most abundant owl species.

Anna’s Hummingbird is a particularly astonishing story. The first Anna’s Hummingbirds ever recorded on our CBC was one lone bird in 1994, 19 years after the SDCBC started. For the next 12 years we never tallied more than 3 Anna’s in any given year. After 2007, however, their numbers increased exponentially, now over 300 this year. They are everywhere — this year, 11 separate field parties counted 10 or more hummingbirds each. The high count goes to the ladies who canvassed south of Washington Street in Sequim, tallying 32 hummingbirds visiting neighborhood feeders. At this rate of increase, Anna’s Hummingbirds may become one of the top-ten species in the next few years.

One other species, Eurasian Collared-Dove, continually set new abundance records over much of the last 10 years, but this year it actually decreased for the second year in a row. Some field groups even commented that collared-doves seemed relatively scarce this year. Could predators such as Cooper’s Hawks and falcons finally be making a dent in the collared-dove population? Maybe not coincidentally, this year these predators all tallied above their long-term averages.

Pine Grosbeak
Photo by John Gatchet

This is also an irruption year for some finch species, likely because cone crops failed in other regions. Common Redpoll set a record for our CBC with 54 total, far above the old record of 16 seen in 2001. The Three Crabs group alone counted 51 redpolls. The Diamond Point/Gardiner group photographed 6 Pine Grosbeaks, another finch species that seems more widespread this fall. Lastly, Evening Grosbeaks, a species that has been virtually absent through 2017, appeared in good numbers for groups counting south of Hwy 101.

Of interest, we recorded lower than average numbers of several dabbling duck species, including Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, and Northern Pintail. The warm weather prior to the count may have something to do with this, because unfrozen freshwater allows dabblers to spread out where we might not count them.

Other species that recorded low numbers this year compared to long-term averages included Barrow’s Goldeneye, American Coot, Pileated Woodpecker, and Northern Shrike. We entirely missed several species we always hope to see — Ring-necked Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Eared Grebe, and Hermit Thrush. Ring-necked Pheasants may be becoming a species of the past, unable to replace themselves now that WDFW has stopped dumping them for hunting in our area.

Black-and-White Warbler
Photo by Scott Gremel

As always, we found several unusual species. Most amazing of all was a truly wayward Black-and-White Warbler found by the group at 3 Crabs. What is an eastern Warbler that normally spends the winter between Florida and South America doing at 3 Crabs in December? Fortunately all the 3 Crabs group saw and photographed the bird, hopefully helping to ease the approval of regional editors.

Other noteworthy birds included a Snow Goose at Jamestown, a male Cinnamon Teal and female Yellow-headed Blackbird north of Sequim, a female Redhead at Simdars Pond, a Black-crowned Night Heron at 3 Crabs, 2 Yellow-billed Loons seen by the boat party, and count week California Scrub-Jay at Carlsborg.

Redhead (Female)
Photo by Pete Walker

The 2018 Christmas Bird Count will be Monday, December 17, 2018 — Put it on your calendars now!!

Special thanks to property owners and agencies who allowed access for the count, including USFWS, Olympic Game Farm, Dungeness Farms and Habitat, Willits family, Graysmarsh, Maple View Farm, Battelle, WA State Parks, WA DNR, Clallam County Parks, and more. Great thanks also to Durkee Richards for providing the offshore boat, and to Gary Poor for ferrying counters to Dungeness Spit. To our esteemed observers who came great distances to help with the count, we couldn’t do it without you. And of course huge thanks to all the great cooks who provided food for the compilation dinner, and to the Dungeness River Audubon Center for hosting the compilation.

Many thanks to our Christmas Bird Count Participants:

Dungeness Spit-Jamie Acker, George Gerdts, Gary Poor (boat); Dungeness Rec. Area-Ken Wiersema, Coleman Byrnes, Sue Nattinger, Emma Montague, Nancy Montague, Ron Hansen; West Dungeness-Denny Van Horn, Dow Lambert, Daniel Froehlich, Shirley Anderson, Laura Davis, Alan Smith, Carol & Tim Fleming, Barb Boekelheide; Three Crabs-Scott Gremel, Mandy Holmgren, Blaine Dalton, Sara Cardejas-Zarelli, Ken & Fanter Lane, Dave Manson, Tom Butler, Rodger Johnson, Lee Bowen; Jamestown-Brad & Dan Waggoner, Jennifer Standish, Connie Bickerton; Graysmarsh-Bob Boekelheide, Michael Barry, Ted Stadtmueller; Port Williams/WA Harbor-Bruce & Sharon Paige, Roger Hoffman; E Sequim fdrs-Sandy Schlechter, Dana Scott, Ron Miller, Sue Fowler; Battelle-Nancy Kohn, Liam Antrim; W. Sequim Bay-Jim & Audrey Gift, Bob Hutchison, Margaret Levitan, Susan Savage, Bob Blush, Bruce & Carol Von Borstel, Linda Falconer; E. Sequim Bay-Judy Mullally, Dan McDougall-Treacy; Miller Penin-Powell Jones, Greg Voyles, Kathy, Rick, & Otis Bush; Diamond Point/Gardiner-John Gatchet, Bob Bagwell; Offshore boat-Charlie & Linnaea Wright, Bruce LaBar, Mike Crim; Durkee Richards (boat); Protection Island-Sue Thomas, Juliana Merluccio, Mary Sue Brancato, Ed Bowlby, Pat Willits, Lorenz Sollman; Chicken Coop-Charlotte Watts; Palo Alto-Carolyn Wilcox, Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin, Nancy & Bill Shaw; Burnt Hill-John Bridge, Brian Berg, Tim McNulty, Matt Duchow; Bell Hill-John & Diana Anderson, Jim & Audrey Gift, Judy Burr-Chellin, Sandra Boren, Nancy Kohn; S Sequim/Happy Valley/Dung Mdws-Peter Walker, John Acklen, Juanice Reyes, Kevin & Susan Magner, Kendra Donelson, Pat MacRobbie, Doris Causey, Bev Swaringen, Kristiana Nielsen, Fish Hatchery/Taylor Cutoff-Quenn Charrier, Norrie & Barb Johnson, Sally Holm; Sally Harris, Anna & Josie Johnson, Atterberry/Cassidy Ck-Barb Blackie, Tom & Linda Stumbaugh, Paul & Mary Farley; Robin Hill Park/Solmar-Barb Blackie, Aissa Wise, David & Judith Morris; McDonald Creek/Kitchen-Dick-Tom Guobis, Joan McDermott, Margie Palmer, Sheila Kee, Betty Kramp; McDonnell Creek Ranch-Sarah Bird, Carol Young; Carlsborg-Marie Grad, Dennis Dixon, Severne Johnson; Heath-Dan & Valerie Stahler, Jane Stewart, Carl Siver, Tan Ebert; Ridgeview/Hogback-Steve & Forest Koehler, Sharle Osborne; Blue Ribbon Farms-Pat Schoen, Janet Bruening, Janet Oja; N Sequim, Carrie Blake Park-Bob Iddins, Karen Parker, Cindy Fullwiler, Nancy & Alan Wolmuth; Woodcock/Old Oly Hwy/Sunland-Enid & Bob Phreaner, Sarah Miller, Jim Karr, Joy Bertman; Dungeness Levee/Towne Rd-Marion Rutledge, Stacey Fradkin; Railroad Bridge Park, Applegate-Mary Robson, Jenna Ziogas, Mindy Mayfield, Terri Tyler, Lisa & Keith Decker, Michael Chase. If I forgot anyone, sorry about that, and thank you very much!