Trumpeting in the New Year

As we roll into 2011 birders around the world are restarting their “year lists,” a tally of all of the species of birds they see in one year. Some, like Russell Cannings, use the new year as a starting point for a “Big Year,” a serious attempt to rack up as many species of birds as possible. In 2010, Russell saw a stunning 373 different species of birds in British Columbia – you can read about his entertaining exploits at Russell’s Big Year. My 2010 year list was a middling 173 species. Having a family of two young children does hamper one’s ability to travel to tick rarities when they turn up!

Birders also like to note the first bird that they see in the New Year. It’s a little like doing a polar bear swim but more civilized.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)
First bird of 2011 – Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)

I’m not going to keep a year list this year but will continue to add new species to my life list over at However, I did note my first bird of the year – the Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) which spends part of the winter in fields in the Comox Valley.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)
Part of a larger flock, a mix of both adult and juvenile Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) feed in the fields of Comox Bay Farm, Courtenay, British Columbia.

I took a couple of photographs of these gorgeous swans but I have to admit that they do look better in either water or snow – the stubbly fields of Comox Bay Farm near the Courtenay River estuary just don’t seem to do them justice. Swimming or flying, they definitely look much more regal!

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)
A little stretch in the late afternoon sun.

Robin Rivers, over at Our Big Earth has a great article on where to view these beautiful birds in the Comox Valley. Check out Sunday Morning Walks – Finding Swans for more details. If you’re interested in starting your own year list, tick my suggestions for a couple of on-line listing options at A New List for a New Year.