Hummingbirds – like this one silhouetted by the morning moon in White Rock earlier this month – will likely be among dozens of species noted by bird enthusiasts scouring White Rock and South Surrey Monday (Jan. 2)

South Surrey/White Rock bird count set for Jan. 2

North America-wide annual count helps with bird-conservation efforts

You never know what you might catch a glimpse of during the Christmas Bird Count – conducted annually between Dec.14 and Jan. 5 by birding clubs and naturalist organizations across the Lower Mainland.

The 116-year-old North American Christmas Bird Count returns to the South Surrey and White Rock area (extending as far south as Bellingham) on Jan. 2, led by local birding enthusiast Gareth Pugh and the White Rock and Surrey Naturalists.

Last January, George Clulow, president of the BC Field Ornithologists, was at a farm at 160 Street and Colebrook Road in Surrey when he spotted a great rarity – a Siberian accentor (Prunella montanella).

The sighting of the sparrow-sized bird – a long way from its native habitat in Russia – drew birders to the area from both sides of the 49th parallel.

The gem was among 130 species of birds and waterfowl logged by more than 100 volunteers during the 2016 event.

Other notable sightings included a dipper, an Orange-crowned warbler, a Least sandpiper and a rusty blackbird.

The bird count – which every year brings together thousands of volunteer bird watchers across the continent – collects data subsequently used for bird conservation efforts. The results are forwarded to the Audubon Society for study.

Anyone can join in this year’s local effort, which is part of a larger White Rock/Surrey/Langley count.

Set for 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., birders of all experience are invited and beginners are welcome. Those planning to participate are advised to dress warmly and bring a packed lunch.

For more information, contact Pugh at gareth@intergate.ca or wrsn@shaw.ca

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