There’s been gulls aplenty in Semiahmoo Bay due to the recent influx of herring and anchovy, and Christmas Bird Count numbers will likely reflect that, organizers say. (Tracy Holmes photo)

There’s been gulls aplenty in Semiahmoo Bay due to the recent influx of herring and anchovy, and Christmas Bird Count numbers will likely reflect that, organizers say. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Herrings, anchovies boost bird-count numbers on White Rock waterfront

Annual Christmas tally expected to reflect phenomenon that drew sea lions to Semiahmoo Bay

The final numbers may not yet be tabulated for this year’s Christmas Bird Count on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, but local count organizer Gareth Pugh can say one thing for certain about what the census of feathered friends will ultimately confirm – a milder winter so far has meant far fewer species have made the trek to the warmer west-coast climes.

“This year, I think we only found one warbler in all of our count,” Pugh said Monday, just two days after volunteers combed a 24-kilometre-diameter circle that also includes Langley and part of Whatcom County in Washington.

Species that typically seek reprieve from winter chill in their own ’hood, such as pine siskins, “haven’t had to migrate quite as far south.”

“It’s interesting to note – there’s definitely a change in species.”

The count, in its 120th year, is held annually across Canada, the U.S. and beyond to collect data that helps track how bird species are faring, and assist in determining which are most at risk. As of Monday, 294 counts had been completed, with nearly 3,000,000 birds counted

Last year, 48,000 birds (109 species among them) were logged in the White Rock count, while the year previous recorded some 67,000.

Pugh said the totals fluctuate from year to year, with local weather also contributing to the results.

Another factor that will likely show in the number of seabirds logged this year is the herring/anchovy phenomenon that has brought stellar sea lions to Semiahmoo Bay to feast in recent weeks.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Seals and gulls swarm White Rock for fish-feeding frenzy

“Millions” of tiny silver fish have captivated beach visitors as they swirl in massive schools – with the carcasses of many littering the foreshore after suffocating (which experts have said is due to oxygen in the water being depleted by the sheer volume of the fish) – offering good eats for the gulls and sea lions. Pugh said the gulls look for the anchovies, which are food for the herring, and the herring are what the sea lions are after.

The sea lions, he noted, are “a very unusual sight” in the bay.

Pugh said he expects to finalize the local bird-count numbers in the next week.

In Langley, Saturday’s drier weather landed more than five dozen species on volunteers’ count totals.

Organizer Mike Klotz said just over 7,800 birds were observed and 65 species tallied in all, up from the previous year’s rain-soaked survey, when just under 5,200 birds were counted and only 52 species, well below the average of 6,000 to 7,000.

Christmas bird counts in the Lower Mainland are conducted on a single day between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.

– with files from Dan Ferguson



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Film crews took over Hawthorne Square Dec. 14 to shoot scenes from the TV series Flash. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
UPDATE: Cloverdale ‘Flash’ episode airs

TV series ‘Flash’ transported 176th Street back to 1998

Surrey forest trail, on Surrey Mound. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
OUR VIEW: Surrey should celebrate Earth Day every day, every week

Today – Thursday, April 22 – is Earth Day

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Verdict to come down today in Surrey crash that killed Travis Selje

Accused testified she has no recollection of the crash and believes she had an epileptic seizure that caused the collision

A Morgan Creek resident has filed an official complaint against a blueberry farmer in the area. (Google image)
Morgan Creek couple files official noise complaint against blueberry farmer

Pair who recently moved to South Surrey say blasting fans keep them from sleeping

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from April 11 to 17, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Active COVID-19 cases in Delta down from previous high

241 cases April 11 to 17, second most since BC CDC began releasing weekly city-level data

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(File)
Two injured in rollover crash near Agassiz

One treated for serious, non-life threatening injuries

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
B.C. red dresses symbolizing missing, murdered Indigenous women vandalized a 2nd time

Nelson’s REDress Project was vandalized along with an outdoor installation on Vancouver Island

A nurse loads a syringe with a vaccine for injection at the Victoria Clipper Terminal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout not enough to bring back normal life by fall: report

Only 51% of the population will be protected under B.C.’s current rollout, SFU professors say more vaccinations are needed to achieve herd immunity

Letisha Reimer, 13, was killed Nov. 1, 2016 in a stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
UPDATED: Second-degree murder conviction stands for Abbotsford school killer

Judge finds that Gabriel Klein is criminally responsible for death of Letisha Reimer

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

Most Read