If my recollection is correct, fifty years ago I participated in my first ever Christmas Bird Count in Vancouver. After a hiatus, I will join the fun again this year. My interest is partly nostalgic and partly joining a century old tradition of celebrating nature.
Birds were the gateway to nature for me as a teenage boy and the Christmas Bird Count was the start a career as an ornithologist. Watching birds also got me thinking about the plight of nature from which the concept of Nature Culture emerged.
My memories of the first count are of counting birds in Stanley Park in a cold easterly wind. We walked the seawall tallying flocks of scoters, goldeneye and gulls before searching for forest birds around Beaver Lake and tallying flocks of gulls going to roost in English Bay at day’s end.
This year, I will take on an area of ocean and upland that will require a boat and car. If the weather is fine, I will abandon the car for a bicycle. I will be posting my fun and frailties during the count on twitter @drrobbutler.
The Christmas Bird Count, now over a century old has stood the test of time and become part of North American culture. The count surpassed 70,000 people a few years ago which is no surprise given the growth in bird related activities in North America. Valued in the billions of dollars, birding is now an important and growing market and an economic reason to preserve nature.
To participate in the Vancouver count, contact Nature Vancouver.