The Ladner Christmas Bird Count could end up being number one in Canada once again when it comes to the number of species spotted.
Organizer Jude Grass told the Optimist a preliminary tabulation of last week's count has the number of species spotted at 140, but it could go up by a couple if there's confirmation about a pair of rare species reportedly seen by birders.
That would have the Ladner count finish tops in Canada.
Grass said at 140, however, the Ladner count would likely finish number two in the country if the preliminary count in Victoria, which just edged Ladner, is confirmed.
"I'm pretty happy with the 140. There's always misses, but in most cases we picked up a lot of good birds and we did pick up some that are not ones that we get every year, so it balances out," Grass said
She said a final tabulation would be completed within the next few days.
Held on Tuesday, Dec. 27, the annual Ladner count covered an area encompassing large parts of South Delta as well as Point Roberts and parts of Richmond.
The local count is part of a larger tally, involving many different communities over two-week period, by Bird Studies Canada, a non-profit conservation organization. Those counts are tabulated in a large-scale Western Hemisphere count organized by the Audubon Society. The Christmas Bird Count began over a century ago and now has more than 2,000 individual counts, with over 360 in Canada.
The generally mild winters and availability of food make Boundary Bay and the Fraser River estuary a major wintering area for many bird species that spend their summers in Siberia, Alaska and Northern Canada. The Ladner count area usually has the highest number of wintering species in Canada for raptors, including hawks, eagles, owls and falcons, as well as shorebirds and waterfowl.
Grass said birders in this year's Ladner count spotted lots of waterfowl as well as seven species of owls, including over 40 snowy owls.
Birders in Point Roberts spotted plenty of marine birds, including murres.
Also seen in abundance were trumpeter swans and bald eagles, while about six species of gulls were counted at the Vancouver Landfill.
Between 80 and 90 volunteers took part in the count, said Grass, noting it was a pretty good number considering the wet, miserable weather.
"We had a very good team of birders out who covered the area well and we had almost all our regular area leaders," she said.
"It was warm but wet, which means a lot of the smaller birds just hunkered down. It didn't affect waterfowl or shorebirds that sat in the fields."