This morning I covered part of my regular Christmas Bird Count Sector. I got a late start but it still ended up being a great morning. I covered the central portion of the area from Rubin Road to Rio/Mongaup Reservoirs and had some nice and unexpected birds. If this had been the count day, I would have been pleased. Even more so since I only spent 2 hours here today. I had a total of 21 species (not bad for small area and short time). Highlights of the day included my first “flock” of Pine Siskins this fall. I had a total of 40 birds! They were initially gritting in the road and then flew up into dense stand of Black Birches laden with catkins. They were tough to photograph due to the dark skies and snow flurries, but I got a couple of identifying shots. Most of the rest of the birds were typical field and feeder birds. Red-breasted Nuthatches were plentiful at feeders and I suspect there will be an abundance of them on the count. The other exciting find was a BARRED OWL! This bird appeared to have some kind of abnormality. One side of its head appeared larger than the other and he kept his head cocked at all times. He was very active though, and clearly hunting. He nearly pounced on something, but changed his mind. I was a bit concerned about it until it suddenly flew off, into the woods and deep into them. I was on him the whole time and he navigated the flight with expertise! I guess no worries there. For my area, waterfowl was pretty plentiful too. I don’t get a lot of it by Christmas Count, but hopefully some of it will remain. Enjoyable morning!