Once again our reliable regulars reported they enjoyed participating and socializing as citizen scientists in this year’s outing for our annual swan and eagle count.
We had more newbies than usual taking part, including one full family carload, so that bodes well for the ongoing viability of this club project. Please consider joining us next year; no need to be an expert birder and, if nothing else, it is a pleasant or an adventurous Sunday drive or maybe both…regardless you get bragging rights for being intrepid enough to venture forth in the midst of winter to collect avian data very much needed to help us better understand and cope with our ever-changing environment.
Some routes are urban, some are suburban, some are more boonies oriented, some are done by just a couple of people, others by a couple of carloads…lots of choice so why not choose to make a lasting contribution to the ongoing wellbeing of our swans and eagles and take part?
This year’s count experienced quite good winter weather. No fog, snow squalls or other serious visibility or driving problems were reported; most areas reported a few sunny breaks appearing about noon or thereabouts and easy road access on their routes. As usual, ponds and shallow lakes were frozen but temperatures were mild enough that most streams were at least partially open and shoreline icing on the larger lakes was not a problem.
No Tundra Swans or Golden Eagles were spotted this year. None were counted last year either. We counted 144 Trumpeter Swans, 120 adults and 24 immature, as well as 122 Bald Eagles, 96 adults and 26 immature. Counting adult and immature birds separately helps give an idea of breeding success or failure. This compares with only 88 Bald Eagles being counted last year and only 112 Trumpeter Swans, but last year had visibility problems due to fog on some routes and that could account for much of the count difference.
It’s only when the count numbers from all the other B.C. count areas are put together along with the data from the many other years we have been keeping track of swans and eagles that we can get a meaningful sense of what is happening.
Fluctuations and trends in the numbers of swans and eagles being counted can be an important warning signal of shifts happening regarding the ecological health of our natural world. Our environment is not always changing for the better or in ways that are as well understood as they should be.
Give me a call at 250-545-7455 if you want to become a citizen scientist helping to collect the basic raw data needed to help us better understand what is happening to this world we all call home. You do not need to be an expert birder or club member to help us do what needs doing.
Jim Bodkin is coordinator for the club’s swan and eagle count.