We always have to calibrate the tide when we do the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count out on the boat in Lemon Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway. This year we planned on pulling out of Stump Pass Marina at approximately 10:30 a.m. Low tide would be at 11. The tide was extremely low, and so we had to be extra careful. Don Rippeon did his best to get us off the flats, but we were constantly scraping bottom. Well, we do have to get as close as possible to those birds to identify and count them. Steve Freedman has been doing the documentation for us for the past three years and was with us again documenting the count. Tom Duch and I had scopes set up to help identify the birds in the far distance. We all had our binoculars and we all were searching the horizon and the flats.
It is always exciting to go out and do the CBC, and this year was no different. Whether by land or sea, it’s an important project and a lot of fun. The tradition began at the turn of the twentieth century, when conservation-minded birders decided to count birds instead of shoot them in the then-traditional Christmas hunt. The CBC is extremely helpful to see how bird populations are faring across the entire country. Information from thousands of local counts is compiled and used to determine which species are failing and which are expanding. The CBC is the longest-running citizen science project in the world.
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