Avian enthusiasts made their way out into cold and snow Dec. 30 to take part in the Wellington-area Christmas Bird Count.
Held nationally every year, it’s the longest-running citizen science project in the country. It began in 1900 as a way to draw people away from bird shootings and has since become a vital part of tracking bird populations.
It is locally sponsored by the Black River Audubon Society.
Diane Devereaux has led Wellington’s count for the past three years. She and 15 other birders flocked Friday to the Wellington Reservation on Jones Road, the Caley Reservation on West Road, the Kipton Reservation on Rt. 511, and New London’s Charlemont Reservation.
“We cover a 10-mile radius in Wellington,” she said. “It’s a combination of driving and getting out and walking the trails. We also do a count a little bit earlier in December that’s done in the Elyria area.”
She said her group counted 8,600 birds in the area last year.
“I do a lot of photography and I’ve always had an interest in birds,” she said. “I joined the group about nine years ago and was happy to get the chance to help organize things.”
The Black River Audubon Society has also constructed habitats for bluebirds and American kestrel falcons, she said.
Sally Fox, Tammy Martin, and Joel Vormelker of Vermilion were spotted trekking through the woods at the Caley Reservation.
“We found some long-eared owls out here a couple of years ago,” said Fox. “Those are very rare and hard to find. We found them later on in Oberlin too. They sit close to the trunk of the tree and they’re very hard to spot.”
“It’s just fun to do,” said Martin. “Our county is so big that it’s divided up into two counts every year. We do the northern county count before Christmas and the southern one after. There’s about a three-week spread where you’re supposed to get the counts done. Then you turn it in to the National Audubon and they assemble all the data.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier, Diane Devereaux, and Sally Fox An American kestrel falcon spotted by Diane Devereaux.