Birders in Langley and White Rock recorded 123 different species during the Dec. 30 count. A different count is happening this Saturday in Langley. (Michael Klotz/Special to the Langley Advance)

Bird counting gives excuse to get out and about in North Langley parks

Birders are coming together in Derby Reach and Brae Island to search out fine-feathered friends.

For the ninth consecutive year, nature lovers are expected to converge on North Langley this weekend to count birds.

This Saturday morning, a few dozen people at least are expected to participate in a bird count in the Derby Reach and Brae Island parks, including the Houston Trail, Derby Bog and peatlands, Edgewater Bar, and Fort-to-Fort Trail areas, explained organizer Phil Henderson.

“If you are not bird-mad, if you are not an ultra serious birder, we want you. All you need is an interest – even a flickering ember – in birds and their environment,” Henderson said.

“We welcome all birder and birdwatcher types, even those who have never thought of themselves as such. We want the beginner; the partially interested and uncertain; the serious and certain, the not so serious; the goofy; everyone,” Henderson jested.

The group is coming together at St. George’s Church in Fort Langley starting at 7:30 a.m., with the expectation of enjoying coffee, hot chocolate, and donuts before hitting the trails at 8 a.m.

Those who are interested are asked to email Phil in advance at strix@uniserve.com, with DRBIPA in the subject line.

Given the purpose of the day, Henderson offered a little humour not intended to insult anyone.

For those suffering with ornithophobia (fear of birds), “we will be looping Hitchcock’s The Birds in the church basement while serving Belgium chocolates. Everyone else is free to join like minded (crazed) ornithophiles in a quest to count all birds in the local parks.”

The count will wrap up at noon back at the church.

The Derby Reach and Brae Island Association consists of what Henderson describes as “a bunch of swell people providing input, guidance, volunteer hours, and passion” to the Metro Vancouver Derby Reach and Brae Island parks.

The count was established initially for park association members to explore and learn about the bird life in their park, Henderson said. But it has grown and expanded since then. It is now open to everyone – young and old.

It’s a “great way to get to know birds in new areas and to become more familiar with birds in areas you think you know,” Henderson said. “No matter how well you know a place you can always know it better.”

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New Years count results

This tally is not connected with the Audubon’d Christmas bird count conducted around the new year, but both often involves some of the same conservationists and naturalists.

During that count on Dec. 30 – which included White Rock and Langley, – 110 participants (92 observers and 18 bird feeder watchers) who reported seeing 123 different species of birds during the day, including as many bald eagles as rock pigeons, and as many Anna’s hummingbirds as red-tailed hawks.

Covering almost 600 kilometres by car and 173 kms by foot on the overcast day, there were 67,229 bird sightings, said organizer Mike Klotz.

And while they also reported seeing an abundance of mallard ducks, there was a decline in the number of invasive species such as starlings, house sparrows, and Eurasian collared dove recorded.

As well, Klotz said, he noted a “striking absence” of wood ducks, Wilson’s snipe, and barred owls.

READ: Langley’s annual bird count may be hazardous at times, but always fun

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