San Mateo County, California
Christmas Bird Counts a Great Success!
The 2017-2018 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season is now completed; once again, Sequoia Audubon's two counts - Crystal Springs and Año Nuevo - were excellent! The CBCs are among the oldest ongoing citizen-science projects, and here in San Mateo county, they provide an impressive data set. The Año Nuevo count produced numerous rarities enroute to a species count of over 160, while the Crystal Springs CBC netted around 180 species. The efforts of Leslie Flint, Gary Deghi, and Al DeMartini to organize, run, and compile these two counts are herculean: they could use some help in future years, and are willing to train apprentices! We are also grateful to our Secret Santa who paid for the CBC dinners - that's a big help to everyone, and much appreciated.
In addition to the two counts sponsored by our chapter, two other counts cover parts of our county: the Palo Alto CBC, and the San Francisco CBC. Don't forget to participate in them, too, if you are able, to increase the percentage of our county that gets good observers onto our wintering birds.
The Half Moon Bay Review embedded a reporter with one of our teams; see the story here.
2017 Christmas Bird Counts
The annual Christmas Bird Counts for San Mateo County are among Sequoia Audubon's favorite traditions. Sequoia's first Crystal Springs count was in 1948 with Santa Clara Audubon and began regular annual counts in 1955. The Año Nuevo Count began in 1972.
Participation in the count is free and the Registration Form is below.
Crystal Springs CBC, Saturday, December 16, 2017
The Crystal Springs CBC is one of the top counts in the country consistently placing in the top 10 in terms of number of species seen. The count circle is centered on the Peninsula and includes the Burlingame shoreline to Redwood Shores on the Bayside and southern Pacifica through Half Moon Bay on the Coastside with the Watershed, Skyline Blvd., and the suburbs in between. The compilation dinner will take place at Bel-Mateo Shopping Center Round Table Pizza, 61 – 43rd Ave. San Mateo.
Año Nuevo CBC, Saturday, December 30, 2017
The Año Nuevo Count is also one of the highest ranking counts, consistently in the top 50 counts in the Country. This Count circle includes the area from Pescadero south to Año Nuevo and up as far as Big Basin and Sam McDonald State Park. This year our compilation dinner will again be held at a Ranch on the Coast with guests invited.
CBC FOR FIRST-TIMERS
Welcome to the nation's longest-running citizen science project.
If this is your first Christmas Bird Count, thank you for stepping outside your comfort zone into a wet/sunny/muddy/warm/cold December day. You'll be contributing to a tradition that started on Christmas Day 1900. Each count covers a circle of 15 miles in diameter. Sequoia Audubon has 2 circles: Crystal Springs and Año Nuevo.
Before the count day:
When you contact the coordinator, let him/her know your level of birding skill. Be clear about whether you prefer to stay on paved paths or if you enjoy hiking over hill and dale, and whether you are available all day or only part of the day. If your group will be counting behind a locked gate in a permit-only area, you should discuss in advance if there is an option to leave early.
The organizer will assign you to a team leader. That person is in charge of the count on a small portion of the count circle. S/he will contact you before the count day with instructions on when and where to meet, and other details. You may be invited to join pre-dawn owling, but you aren't obligated to accept. Find out if you should bring lunch with you, or if you will be able to get lunch at a café somewhere. If you don't have binoculars, say so. Be sure to bring appropriate gear for the day – layers are good, as is sturdy footwear. Don't forget a full tank of gas if your assigned section is far from home.
On the count day:
Be sure to arrive punctually. Unlike a typical birding outing, the group will only stay at the rendezvous point long enough to fill out paperwork and discuss the plan for the day. Late arrivals cause delays.
Depending on the area and number of volunteers, the team leader may subdivide the group.
If you are a beginning birder, don't be intimidated by other people in your count group. We were all newbies once, wondering how on earth someone could know there were 10 ruby-crowned kinglets in the Douglas fir forest.
Everyone helps by calling out birds they notice. It's OK if you don't know what species of bird: the more skilled people can figure that out (or not) but you can help "get" them on the bird. Perhaps you have sharp ears and can alert the group to bird calls that not everyone can hear.
You may be assigned to tally the birds found. The checklist for each CBC contains only birds likely to be seen in this count circle and are arranged in taxonomic order. Some people to use a clipboard to tally birds counted, perhaps changing to a new copy of the list when moving to a fresh location. Some tally in small notebooks or on folded pieces of paper. Others use the mobile eBird app. Just so long as you can read and understand your counts and don't lose them! At the end, all will be added and transferred to a clean copy of the list. If you don't go to the dinner, give all paperwork to the leader.
Please do join us at the count dinner – not for the food or elegant dining, which it's not – but for camaraderie, the fun of swopping "how was your day" stories with others, and then the countdown: listing what birds were seen, followed by the excitement of learning what rare birds turned up. Dinner is usually over by 7.30 or so.
Last but not least: THANK YOU for helping.
Questions? For more information about the two Christmas Bird Counts, send an email to Leslie Flint, Coordinator email@example.com