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Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Audubon Christmas Bird Count 2012

Today was the Pocono Environmental Education Center/Audubon Annual Christmas Bird Count. I donned the snowshoes and hit the forest & fields on a cold blustery day recording the number and species of birds I saw. Fantastic afternoon!

In addition to the birds, I stalked within 30 yards of a deer leisurely feeding among some dead-falls in a grove of white pine. If you've never participated in this event you're missing a really nice opportunity to spend a winter's day outdoors. Next Fall check on Audubon.org for the date of your local Christmas Bird Count.

For me, this wasn't a social event. I signed up on line and received an email of the Count Area with a breakdown of sections. I chose a section and went on my merry way. I didn't see a single person or other person's footprint in my coverage area. Sweet, to say the least.

Urban dwellers can also participate in the cities. The elderly or those who are ill can tally what comes to their bird feeder and the less adventurous can count birds they see from their cars. A filed guide is handy to have as are binoculars. I never ran into anything unrecognizable so the field guide stay tucked away in my coat pocket.

I didn't set any records and I didn't see any rare or oddball species. I simply had a great time. Most of the birds I saw were Juncos followed by Chickadees. There were a few Nuthatches, a Blue Jay, two Red-tailed Hawks, a couple of American Crows, some Tufted Titmouse, half dozen Wild Turkey Toms, Mourning Doves, and the rarest of the species was a Pileated Woodpecker.

I should've brought along an SLR with a telephoto but I wanted to travel light for the 3 hour trudge through the snow. I did bring the old "Big Bird" point & shoot that did zero justice to any wildlife shots but did manage to capture some landscape pictures.

The sign up cost? Zero. It used to be a measly $5, but Audubon scrapped the fee. Of course a small donation to Audubon would help them with their mission: To conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.

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