ABOUT THE BIRDS
Christmas Bird Count 2019
By Steve Justus, California Naturalist Docent
Photos by Mitchell Coleman
Every year for the last several years, the Conservancy has supported the Audubon Society’s important Christmas Bird Count program with our results reported and compiled into the national project. In 2019 we were able to stay consistent with previous surveys, fielding four teams that covered both the Antelope and San Joaquin valleys. Our total species count was 60, a bit down from previous years.
Photo: Say's phoebe (Sayornis saya) on black elderberry (Sambucus nigra), Chanac Creek.
Weather was the story again this year. Conditions were decent until the last minute with the weather deteriorating on the morning we were to head out. Being too late to cancel, the teams just toughed it out. Intermittent drizzle and light rain made some roads impassable, and intermittent low clouds kept us at lower elevations. But the dedicated teams stayed focused.
Photo: red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) on California sycamore (Platanus racemosa), Tejon Creek.
Most impacted by weather was the Western Antelope Valley route, where the team sighted only 16 species, highlighted by three golden eagles and three ferruginous hawks. The Eastern AV was only a little less impacted with a count of 22 species. This route was highlighted by a greater yellowlegs sighting on a pond, plus mountain and western bluebirds, harriers, and red-tailed and ferruginous hawks.
Photo: acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) on black oak (Quercus kelloggii), Winter's Ridge.
Counts on the San Joaquin Valley routes were the least impacted by weather. The southwestern route compiled 29 species. Highlights were the high raptor counts: harriers and red-shouldered, Swainson’s, red-tailed, and ferruginous hawks, and merlins and kestrels. Add in golden eagles and a bald eagle!
Photo: red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).
The Eastern SJV route had the largest team and highest results, with a total of 55 species counted. The individual counts were in some cases very high and highly varied. Highlights were many, but standouts were 12 raptor species including sharp-shinned and rough-legged hawks, bald eagle, golden eagle, and prairie falcons. Add in 62 wild turkeys, eared and pied-billed grebes, and it was quite a day for this team.
Photo: western bluebirds (Sialia mexicana), female and male, on inland scrub oak (Quercus berberidifolia), Blue Ridge.
The Conservancy thanks all of the participants for supporting the CBC. Volunteers are the lifeblood of any science or stewardship project on Tejon. Your time is greatly appreciated. If you are interested in other volunteer projects, please follow us on Facebook and at Tejonconservancy.org.
Photo: red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) on red willow (Salix laevigata), Chanac Creek.
Ravens and Pronghorns and Joshua Trees and Poppies exceed fundraising goals.
‘NATURE JOURNALING FOR EDUCATORS’ RETURNS TO TEJON RANCH CONSERVANCY
By Education Coordinator Paula Harvey
When I go out in the field and find something interesting, I settle in to study it. I think about my subject, observe deeply, and then learn further by sketching it. I lose track of time and become intimately involved in my study.
My mind is stimulated, my thinking becomes clearer, I’m energized and I feel connected with the natural world around me. Questions emerge and I write them around my sketches. Some questions, with further observation, can be answered on the spot, others I take home for further research.
Journaling is personal and individual and each of us has our own style. Yet, what we study is connected to the scientific community and some of our observations may be useful to others, particularly in the face of climate change. I’m contributing to the greater scientific good, at the same time, enhancing my own well-being.
The intellectual, emotional, and spiritual benefits of nature journaling are so far-reaching that it is no wonder it continues to be a beloved activity of naturalists, artists, and scientists.