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

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Vehicles line up for the Greater Vancouver Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival at the Chilliwack Coliseum parking lot on March 27. The touring event comes to Cloverdale this weekend, April 24-25 (Photo: Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)
Here are the food trucks coming to Cloverdale for a drive-thru festival this weekend

Nine trucks will be parked Saturday, nine Sunday during event at fairgrounds

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Parts of Surrey, North Delta to get AstraZeneca vaccines for people ages 40+

A total of seven communities in Surrey and Delta will be targeted

Delta police were called to a possible stabbing in the 8100-block of Scott Road at around 6 p.m. on Sunday afternoon (April 18, 2021). (Shane MacKichan photo)
Two arrested after man stabbed in North Delta parking lot

The incident took place in the 8100-block of Scott Road at around 5:15 p.m. on Sunday, April 18

The Braidwood Band performs for the seniors at Zion Park Manor in Surrey, as part of a music program planned by Rick’s Heart Foundation. (submitted photo)
VIDEO: Surrey charity brings distanced concerts to care homes, with prop pink firetruck

Familiar tunes performed for seniors during pandemic-era ‘Heart for Music’ program

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A man has died after being shot at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park the evening of Monday, April 19. (Twitter/IHIT)
1 man dead after shooting at Coquitlam park: IHIT

The gunman is still at large, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Most Read