From: Walt Carroll
December l5, 2012, the assigned day for the annual Christmas Bird Count, began with much trepidation. Our meeting place was at Mugby Junction on Huff Street. The morning produced pouring-down rain and forecasts for more throughout the day. As I drove to the meeting place, no birds or avian activity was observed anywhere. (Birds are smarter than people; they stay holed up in nasty weather.) Our assigned group could not develop an alternative date for the count so we decided to proceed.
"Watch for open water areas and do the best you can," was the suggestion.
Expecting little, I was totally surprised at the results. Our l9 counters took to their assigned routes, covering the l5 mile radius around Winona and into Wisconsin. As the various teams came in throughout the day, the numbers of sightings began to grow. As expected, the waterfowl were counted in larger numbers, and the other common species showed up as the rain diminished later in the day. The final tally showed 57 different species and an individual count of ll,036 birds. Significant to this count were ll40 Tundra Swans, usually long gone by mid-December; 3960 Canada Geese, loving the lousy weather; l02l Mallard also making muster. Starlings, Rock Doves, Juncos and House Sparrows were all abundant, as usual.
To give a little perspective to these numbers, our record year was l998 when 78 species presented l8,426 birds. Last year we had 5l species and 4,823 individuals. The year prior 52 species and 5,023 individuals.
These wonders of nature continue to tease and to please those of us that participate in the count from year to year. I want to thank Mugby Junction on Huff Street for hosting us again this year, as well as the l8 other counters who donned their rainwear and enjoyed the day. I don't want to forget our feeder watchers who always add to our data.
This Audubon Count is a worldwide event, and each of us is a proud participant. It is open to all, and we would welcome any and all participants for next year.