On Sunday, December 19, the Lake Erie Islands Count Circle held their annual Audubon Christmas Birding Count (CBC.) Birds are usually identified and counted on Kelley’s, Pelee, South and Middle Bass Islands that day. Bird species recorded three days before and three days after but not seen the day of the count are recorded as Count Week birds. Total species and numbers will be totaled by Count compiler John Pogacnik reported 77 different species and a total of 71,469 birds in the Lake Erie Islands count circle.

This winters count was definitely different for us here on the Bass Islands due to the very cold December we have had. There were only a few areas of open water this year. Thanks to a tip from Paul Ladd about an open patch off Buckeye Point, Lisa Brohl and Susan Harrington were able to count over 150 Tundra swans as the sun rose that day! Annie Parker had been monitoring their presence at open water near Chapman’s Reef that froze over that night. The swans were concentrated at the Buckeye Point location. Other highlights of the day on South Bass included a snow bunting at Scheeff East Point Nature Preserve, a yellow bellied sapsucker that has been showing up daily at Bob Glauser’s feeder, and a flurry of yellow-rumped warblers and downy woodpeckers feeding onpoison ivy berries before the afternoon snow hit. Pine siskins visiting from the north were recorded at a few feeders -look for more of them this year with your goldfinches! Ruth Scarpelli saw two bald eagles fly overhead while watching her feeder that day. A lone red-wing blackbird made an appearance on Count Day at a feeder.

Large numbers of American robins and European starlings were counted. John Dodge found a great blue heron feeding at one of the bubbling systems at a dock in the Bay the day after the count. The highlight of the Kelleys Island count from Tom Bartlett and Sandy Tkach was a rare Bohemian Waxwing found with some Cedar Waxwings. The north and east side of Kelley’s still had open water and so produced a variety of waterfowl including large numbers of the common goldeneye, common mergansers, and gadwall. Both white-winged and black scoters were sighted as well. Gloria Wolf watched birds on Middle Bass for the Christmas Count. On South Bass, Lisa Brohl, Susan Harrington, John Dodge, Bridget Wise, Maisie Cox, Beth Niese, Russ Brohl, Anita McCann, Bob Glauser, Kit Knaser, Sue Amrine, Mindy Schuster, Cindra and Paul Lipke Benn, Michelle Heineman, Ruth Scarpelli, Angie Martens, Walt Duff, Len Knam, Annie Parker, Maryann McCann, and Sharon Gray birded the island or watched feeders. Susan Harrington organized a CBC 4 KIDS through Sonoma Birding on Monday, December 20. The gym classes of Put-in-Bay School K-7 plus Casey and Ian Ladd, Emily Shantz, Jessica Krueger, and Meredith Engel enjoyed birding the island for this new birding count for the younger set.

They were able to add Hermit Thrush and Common Merganser to our Christmas Count data-birds we did not see on Sunday! Nora Ladd, Jack and Henry Genzman, Elena Schroeder, Casey and Ian Ladd, Morgan and Matthew Stacy, Kate and Joe Burns, Willow
Lipke Benn, Chelsea Mays, and Jack Booker on South Bass and Cecilia Glauser and Emily Schanz on Middle Bass all watched birds and/or feeders for the adult Christmas Bird Count as well! We should have a great Christmas Bird Count in the years to come with all these new birders!

Thanks to property owners for access, to all the counters and feeder watchers, and to Valerie Mettler for providing lunch for some of the counters on Sunday! Hot soup and chocolate is always appreciated! Thanks to everyone who called with bird sightings as well! Let’s see what other surprises show.