Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Pocket Count

What has it got in its pocketses? --Gollum, The Hobbit

Now that Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season is nearly over, I thought I'd begin a new count circle--my jacket pockets. This important habitat area is sadly under-appreciated by birders, so I decided that starting a new counting tradition would help raise awareness of this threatened habitat type.

My jacket has three basic functions: (1) to carry various items that I might need on a daily basis, (2) to act as a trash can when no real trash can is around, and... oh yeah, (3) to keep me warm.

This morning, December 28th, 2009, from 10:30-10:45 a.m., I conducted the first Christmas Pocket Count (CPC) under cloudy skies, calm conditions, and temperatures in the upper fifties. I found mostly just the usual residents, though a few vagrants found their way into my pockets. Here is my list for the effort.

(3) Sandwich Bags--all containing crumbs of bread and traces of Jiffy Chunky Peanut Butter.
(1) Chapstick--before you begin lecturing me about how unmanly Chapstick is, try doing two consecutive CBCs in hot, dry, windy weather. Then tell me how your lips feel. This particular species has a close affinity to mankind.
(1) ABA Checklist--a hatch-year containing the latest changes in taxonomy.
(1) Lens Cloth--very worn individual (dark smudges covering most of its body) very far from its usual haunts in the camera case.
(1) Empty Pretzel Bag--the one-hundred calorie Synder's pack, which makes bad eating. It tasted like a Coot.
(1) Crumpled-up Paper Bag--another very worn individual that formerly contained doughnuts.
(1) Kleenex--basic plumage (very wrinkled and covered with a very viscous yellowish liquid.)
(1) Wad of Foil--closely related the the previously mentioned Sandwich Bags. Currently considered separate species; possibly just a subspecies.
(1) Plastic Water Bottle Cap--very far from its normal range...the recycling bin.
(1) iPod Earbuds--ah, that's where those went! The first record for my jacket pockets.
(4) AAA batteries--very young individuals (i.e., they have not yet fledged.)
(17) Clementine Peels--all very worn. Some individuals seemed to be suffering from a white and green skin parasite.
(1) Digital Voice Recorder--I was wondering where this one went. I had it staked out on my desk shelf; apparently it wanders.
(7) Granola Bar Wrappers--three different subspecies were represented: (2) Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip, (2) Nature Valley Oats & Honey, and (3) Nature Valley Maple Brown Sugar.
(1) Uneaten Granola Bar--of the Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip subspecies.
(3) Quarters--very rare and endangered species. Always at risk of being sacrificed to vending machines; this species should be immediately protected before it goes extinct.
(1) Nickel--surprisingly scarce.
(2) Pennies--one hatch-year of the Log Cabin subspecies, and a very worn, dark-morph TFY (thirty-fourth year) of the Lincoln Memorial subspecies.
(2) Gum Wrappers--two different subspecies represented: Stride Winter Blue and Orbit Wintermint.
(1) Raisin--oddly, a single individual. This species is normal found in large, dense flocks in cardboard nests.
(1) Twist-tie--a nearly annual vagrant to jacket pockets; normal range is restricted to the kitchen.
(4) Receipts--the taxonomy of this species is hotly debated. Some think it should be split into dozens of species. Two were of the Subway subspecies, one of the Carl's Jr. subspecies, and one of the Albertson's subspecies. I aged all as after hatch-year by the extensive wrinkling on all individuals.
(1) Scantron--a much-hated invasive species that is most frequently spotted during finals.
(1) Pen--sadly, this species is declining precipitously. Its last few strongholds are several dark drawers somewhere.
(5) Maps--formerly rare in the region, this species has invaded the region from a place called The Google.
(1) CBC Tally Sheet--This species is generally only found in the region during CBC season (i.e., December 15th-January 5th)
(1) Slip of Paper--plumage variant...this individual had the email address of a birder interested in several CBC rarities written on it.
(~800) Granola Bar Crumbs--a very harmful and dangerous species. The only way to combat it is with a strange creature known as a vacuum cleaner.

I wish you luck in your CBCs and CPCs. Until next year!


Corey Husic said...

Wow, even Southern California CPCs are better than those in the east. I had a molting Kleenex and a few of those invasive Granola bar crumbs. ;)

Alf said...

My jacket pocket has a hole in the bottom, making the habitat unsuitable for most of the smaller species.