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December 16, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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December 16, 2015
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015 1B & Audubon Society itizen " projecttomorrow Stacy Fisher Staff Writer chesternews@plumasnews.com o assess the health of bird populations in and around the Lake Almanor Basin, the Plumas Audubon Society invites Plumas residents to participate in the early-winter bird census on Thursday, Dec: 17, as part of the organization's Christmas Bird Count program. Interested individuals can venture out in groups led by experienced birdwatchers to help create data sets that will go a long way in helping to provide information on bird species that are making their winter homes in the area. The bird count is the country's longest running citizen science project in which the public collects scientific data. This is the Birdwatchers are assigned to separate ll6th consecutive year oftheprogram groups, with each group consisting of sponsored by the Audubon Society. expert birdwatchers together with Ryan Burnett, Sierra Nevada director for people who have some experience or are Point Blue Conservation Science, said the novices. According to Sierra Nevada Audubon Society conducts a Christmas bird director for Point Blue, Ryan Burnett, it's count every year as one of a number of a great way to enjoy nature and to important components of its mission to participate in something that you might monitor the health of animal populations, not normally think to do. Photo courtesy of Burnett, a Hamilton Branch resident, is A house sparrow hunkers down on a frosty morning during the 2013 Sierra Valley Christmas Bird The National Audubon Society one of the volunteer coordinators for the Count. Photo by David Arsenaul~Courtesy Plumas Audubon Society event. He's also a professional ornithologist and often works in the Almanor Basin. He said that people of all ages are welcome to participate in the free activity that's open to the public. The Audubon Society is very active in this area, tie said, with the Lake Almanor program first established around 40 years ago. A 15-mile boundary is established around Chester in which volunteers follow specified routes within the circle. "Starting at 7 o'clock in the morning, we all meet at the Holiday Market in Chester on Main Street, and go until we start to lose light ~a+ygund 4:30 l~,.ra.," Burn.err saiql: ........ At the market location, people are assigned to separate groups, with each group consisting of expert birdwatchers mixed together with people who have some experience or are novices. Burnett said maps and directions are provided, along with data sheets and instructions on how to fill them out before driving to their respective areas. Folks can choose to participate for the The American Bald Eagle is a whole day, he added, or just half the day regular resident throughout beginning in the morning if they prefer, much of the northern California Individuals will mostly be hiking in the region, including the Lake forested areas along the lakeshore. But for Almanor Basin. Photo by David those who aren'tas mobile as they once Arsenault/Courtesy Plumas Audubon were, "We do have routes where people can Executive Director of the Plumas Audubon Society David Arsenault and Gail Frazier enjoy a Society spend most of the time inside the car." morning of bird watching at Spanish Creek during the American Valley count in 2013. To assess Some of the different areas that wiUbethe health of bird populations around the Lake Almanor Basin, the Audubon Society invites assigned include the Chester Meadow and Plumas County residents to participate in the early-winter bird census on Dec. 17 as part of the west shore of Lake Almanor. Another organization's Christmas Bird Count program. Photo submitted location will be near the Chester sewage ponds, while another group will be stationed on the peninsula by PrattviUe, and also across the causeway east of Chester that i follows the shoreline. Burnett said that during the warmer season, groupshavealsoheadedintothe ...... 6 People "t ly g uplands, "but this time of year most of the action is in the water where there is a huge CIl'er} or} olDg diversity of water birds in the lake during ' t fo joym of bird the winter." OU r the eD el# Burnett recommended that people be :. ! prepared for their excursion with warm " watching, but they're olso helping winter clothing, along with caps and gloves, * as well as winter boots or snowshoes because to compile a data set that's used by of likely snow conditions on the ground. , - -, He said he's been involved in the program the AuclubonSociely and other for about 10 years, "and it has rained a / to / couple of times too, so umbrellas can be reseorcn orgomzonons generate useful depending on the weather." analyses on bird migration tobe Participants should also bring a pair of binoculars, a camera, and plenty of food and water. "If people don't have binoculars, I osea" rror conservation purposes usually bring a couple extra," he said. Participants fill out the data sheets that and management of birds in are provided whenever they spot a bird at their respective location, which is turned in North America. 99 at the end of the day. "People aren't only going out for the Ryan Bumett enjoyment of bird watching," Burnett added, Sierra Nevada Director for Point Blue Conservation Science "but they're also helping to compile a data and Volunteer Event Coordinator set that's used by the Audubon Society and other researchorganizations to generate analyses on bird migration to be used for conservation pUrposes and management of birds in North America." Burnett said they take information that's gathered on the bird watching expeditions not just to benefit the knowledge of the bird populations at Lake Almanor but over a A great blue heron flies down Spanish Creek through the morning fog as seen during the 2013 American Valley Christmas Bird Count. The Plumas long period of time. "We can see patterns in Audubon Society sponsors a local portion of the country's longest running citizen science project in which the public collects scientific data how birds are moving around over the larger detailing bird species and populations during hikes in forested areas and along the A|manor lakeshore. Photo by David Arsenault/Courtesy Plumas region and both nationany and Audubon Society internationally as well .... It's a great way to track long-term changes in migration." the past several years." make new friendships, he said. weather conditions. He continued, "We know from the data At the end of the day, Burnett said For people interested in participating in "It's an invigorating experience for we've collected here in the Lake Almanoreveryone is invited to meet up at his house the bird count call Burnett at 258-2869, or everyone," he concluded, "and a great Area that some species have really in Hamilton Branch for pizza and drinks, email rbumett@pointblue.org. Burnett opportunity to get outside in the winter and increased, which we believe has to do with and to share stories of their experiences. It's recommends those interested RSVP by participate in something that you might not the milder conditions that have set in over a good way for people to meet and possibly email, so he can send out updates on the normally think to do."