Even though it had snowed 10 inches the day before, some wild and crazy sense of history and commitment made me set my alarm for 3:30 am on Saturday morning, 12/20/08. I was out the door at 4:00 am and driving 45 miles to area 4 of the AA CBC circle. Crazy! I arrived at my owling spot at about 5:15 am and began calling for Screech Owls. My first response did not come until about 5:45 am and, by this time, my toes were already frozen. Finally, around 6:15 am, I stopped at one of my previously successful spots and heard two Screech and two Great Horned. Total owl count: four Screech and two Great Horned owls. So began the 2008 AA CBC for me. All things considered, not bad. The road in the photo above is an example of a good road. I got stuck on 5 Mile Road, my best small bird road, for about an hour. In that hour, while my bins were in the car, I missed a positive ID of five White-winged Crossbills flying into a pine top heavy with cones. My best bird for the day was a Fox Sparrow on Nollar Road. Tim McKay and his team also found four White-crowned Sparrows for area 4.
Every year the best part of this CBC for me is getting to see and count with my area teammates: Tim McKay and his van load doing the southern triangle and Dana Novak and Randy Messing doing the middle triangle. This year Dana and Randy were joined by their seven month old twins, Henry and Oliver.
Count compiler and area 2 leader, Jacco Gelderloos, is in his second year of compiling this 62 year old Ann Arbor birding tradition. Dea Armstrong (foreground), leader for area 1, has a long history of finding many good CBC birds. This year an AA CBC first record Pileated Woodpecker was found in area 1.
The tally always starts with feeding hungry birders who have been in the field all day.
Every Ann Arbor CBC tally requires a polite pause while we listen to Mike Kielb expound on the count's American Crow population. This year was no different. "They flew in from the southeast and then from the northwest ... "
Now there's a picture! That's Tim McKay with Henry Novak-Messing and Jordan McKay. So ended the 2008 Ann Arbor Christmas Bird Count. Next year I hope to have photographs of Oliver Novak-Messing at his second CBC tally. Until we meet again in 2009.