2016 Homer Spit / Anchor River Shorebird Monitoring Times and Tides
Starting time is based on the quarter hour before the receding tide reaches 15.0 feet, or high tide if it doesn’t reach 15.0 feet using Seldovia tide tables. The tide correction between Seldovia and Homer is only +5 minutes.
What a fantastic Christmas Bird Count here in Homer! There were 66 species seen and three of these species had never been seen before on a Christmas Bird Count:Red-breasted Sapsucker, Anna’s Hummingbird and Ancient Murrelet. During the Count Week (which is three days before and three days after the Count Day), an additional nine species were found, including a Great Blue Heron and a Chestnut-backed Chickadee, both very uncommon on this side of the Bay. Participants, including myself, did their best during the short daylight hours searching hard and long to find the latter two on the Count Day itself, as they had been seen the previous few days and would have been wonderful finds.
Nearly 8000 birds were counted in all. The most numerous species were Rock Sandpipers (2000), Pine Siskin (871), and Black Scoter (845); also hundreds of Mallards, Common Mergansers, Pelagic Cormorants, Common Murre, American Robins, Black-capped Chickadees, Northwestern Crows and Glaucous-winged Gulls. Species of note were six European Starlings, White-throated Sparrow, Townsend’s Solitaire, and—love them or not—there were 13 Ring Necked Pheasants (last year only one could be found).
The weather cooperated and the snow that was predicted thankfully did not fall. This was a huge help although the heavy clouds meant the day was very short. A big thank you to over thirty volunteers who participated, plus other feeder watchers. Thank you to Dave Erikson as coordinator of the Count; this was the 39th consecutive Christmas Bird Count he has coordinated here in Homer! And a big thank you to Islands and Ocean Visitor Center for allowing us to use their wonderful facility.
The Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running citizen science project in our nation, and in Homer it is always held on the first Saturday in the window (Dec. 14th to Jan. 5th).
The center of the 15-mile-diameter count circle is the intersection of Kachemak Drive and the Spit Rd. The circle extends east to Fritz Creek, south past the end of the Spit, west to the mouth of Diamond Creek and to the north where there are few roads. We do not go out in boats for our count.
Participants meet at 8:30 am at IOVC for coffee/tea/breakfast foods, get assigned to teams and areas, and then go out to count all the daylight hours. At 4:30 teams return and compile results and enjoy a warm potluck supper.
A few days before the event, Dave Erikson always teaches a class on “Winter Bird Identification”. This class is valuable for new birders as well as being an excellent opportunity for more experienced birders to brush up on what birds are in Homer in the winter.