PENINSULA — The Leadbetter Christmas Bird Count sponsored by the Willapa Hills Audubon Society recently took a census of birds within a 15-mile circle on a map that includes the Peninsula from 185th street north to the tip and around Willapa Bay as far north as Bay Center. There were 28 hardy birders who volunteered their day to count as many birds as they could within this circle.
The total number of species counted on Dec. 15 was 92, down slightly from previous years. The birders had a good day of weather between our coastal storms, but the storms played a role in the low numbers.
A few highlights were:
• 15,433 dunlin
• 174 American robins
• Three barred owls
• Two American dippers
• 13 snowy plovers
Within count week (three days before and three days after Dec. 15), 200 marbled godwits were counted. Trumpeter swans have gone from a high of 88 in 2011 to 13 this year. What was missing were raptors; no merlins, sharp-shinned hawks or coppers hawks were seen this year.
The Audubon group expressed thanks for the generosity of all the private and public property owners who allowed birders to access their property to count birds.
As well as the Dunes Bible Camp and Swimming Pool, these included Sunset Sands Community Association, Ocean Park Camp and Retreat Center, Willapa Oysters.com, Willapa Bay Air, Oysterville Sea Farms, Oysterville Store, Leadbetter Farms, Bay Center Mariculture Company, the O’Meaghers, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and the Washington State Parks.
A special thanks went to Anita’s Café in Ocean Park and the Hunter’s Inn in Naselle for feeding the birders breakfast and dinner, respectively.
If you want to participate in next year’s Audubon Christmas Bird Count, contact Willapa Hills Audubon Society at willapahillsaudubon.org.