Sunday, December 18, 2011

In place of the Chapter’s usual monthly field trip, The San Fernando Valley Audubon Society will once again join chapters across the country and in North and South America, Hawaii, and the Caribbean and take part in the National Audubon Society’s 112th annual Christmas Bird Count. Count totals and data collected are forwarded to and analyzed by interested researchers in cooperation with the NAS and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

The bird count provides a measure of the nation’s early winter bird populations including species composition, distribution, and population trends. Bird count numbers are often the only long-term, comprehensive information regarding local wintering bird populations. As this chapter continues into its second half century of bird counts, some trends are clearly evident. While the skill level of counters continues to improve and field guides are upgraded, some of our once common birds continue to decline in numbers while others, once considered rarities, are now common.

Members and friends of the chapter are encouraged to save the 18th and join one of the count groups listed below as numbers of participants are crucial to the success of our count. The more eyes that take to the field, the more birds will be seen in both variety and number. Several of our count areas are underserved and can use all the help they can get. Extensive birding experience is not a prerequisite, only a willingness to come out and count—wind, rain, or shine.Those unable to join one of the count groups may assist by noting species and numbers of birds at backyard feeders, local parks and neighborhoods provided such counts take place within a 7.5 mile radius circle from the count center at the intersection of Balboa and Nordhoff. Please report all such counts along with the time spent observing to the compiler by post, phone, or e-mail (Art.Langton@sfvaudubon.org) no later than and preferably before December 31, 2011.

While count participation is free and open to all, a $5/person donation to offset the chapter’s payment to NAS will be greatly appreciated and accepted.

Hansen Dam and Vicinity — Meeting time: 7:00 a.m.

From the intersection of Osborne and Glenoaks, go north on Osborne to Dronfield (signal), turn right on Dronfield and enter park. Proceed downhill to large parking lot. Look for counters with binoculars. Bring lunch, drink, and be prepared to walk. Leader: Jim Moore

Bee Canyon and O’Melveney Park — Meeting time: 1:00 p.m.

From the intersection of Balboa and Rinaldi, go north to Balboa and Sesnon. Turn left (west) on Sesnon and continue .5 miles. Park is on the right. Meet in the parking lot. Leader: Ron Melin

Sepulveda Wildlife Basin & Lake Balboa — Meeting time: 7:30 a.m.

Meet in the parking lot east of Woodley Avenue, north of Burbank Blvd. and south of the Tillman Water Treatment Plant. Bring lunch, drink. Leader: Kris Ohlenkamp

LA Pierce College — Meeting time: 8:00 a.m.

Enter the campus from Winnetka Avenue and meet by the flagpole in front of the Administration Building. Bring drinks, snacks. This large area needs several counters. Leader: Aurelio Albasisa

Limekiln and Aliso Canyons, Porter Valley Country Club — Meeting time: 8:00 a.m.

Meet at the sign for “Limekiln Canyon Lower Trail” on the south side of Chatsworth Street one-half block west of Tampa Ave. Leaders: Donna Timlin and Carolyn Oppenheimer

Chatsworth Nature Preserve

A part of our count circle since the beginning of the Valley Christmas bird count, this area may no longer be open and available to us due to changes in DWP personnel, policies, and management goals. Check with the compiler before even thinking about counting this area.

—Arthur Langton, compiler, 818-887-0973