The Mount Diablo Audubon Society’s 51st annual Christmas Bird Count, which took place on December 14, 2003, benefited from sunnier weather and better visibility than the previous year. About 60 volunteer bird counters spotted more than 51,000 birds representing 148 species; among the sightings was a violet-green swallow, a species previously unrecorded by Diablo Audubon. However, the American bittern, which once enjoyed a nationwide high count in east Contra Costa County, refused to show itself for the second year running. Twenty-year veteran count compiler Jimm Edgar attributes the elusive bird’s absence to the erosion of marsh habitat. Find results of the nationwide Audubon bird counts at www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/index.html.
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