This is our annual inventory of the James River Park (JRP) System conducted in January of each year. The count is divided into 8 sectors of the JRP system with a team leader for each group. The team leader gathers their flock and sets the time and meeting place for the day as well as keeping track of the birds seen/heard. If anyone would like to volunteer to team-lead please let us know.
Unlike CBC's (Christmas Bird Count) it is not necessary to count all the birds seen, just the species.
We start around sunrise and wrap up birding about 11 am, moving on to compilation.
The local sectors surveyed are:
This has become a great first of the year event with incredible participation.
The Larry Robinson Bird Count has been part of Richmond Audubon Society (RAS) tradition longer than some of you have been alive!
Originally known as the RAS Winter Count or James River Park Winter Bird Count, the purpose, fun and fellowship of this event has remained solid. The count was started while there were still Ivory-billed Woodpeckers nesting in the Singer Tract. Well, perhaps not that long but with the help of Mary Arginteanu I have a great appreciation of tradition and history in our RAS family.
Larry Robinson was one of the founders of the RAS Winter Bird Count along with Tim Cook and Betsy Slade as well as several others. The first count was in 1984 with the first compilation being held in Tim Cook’s living room. From then on, the compilations were held at Mary and Larry’s. In 2012, Ben and Betsy Saunders graciously took on the muddy boots and brunch thru 2018.
Our first compilation out of a members’ home took place in 2019 when we met at the Unity Church in Richmond. We dodged Covid in 2020 by a couple months and met at the Urban Farmhouse; both of those compilations coordinated by Mary Elfner.
Without Larry’s love of nature none of this would have ever come to fruition. He adored music and sweet Mary A. They made a perfect pair for this event. Larry gave so much of his life to the birds by compiling the CBC for 30 years, coordinating a region for the state Bird Atlas as well as running the net lines for many seasons at MAPS. RAS lost a friend and dedicated supporter in 2018 when Larry died. It was a no-brainer that the count be named in Larry’s honor. (I didn’t even ask permission). 2019 marked the advent of the Larry Robinson Winter Count.
What has changed in the 16 years I have been organizing the count is the increase of birders participating and the uptick in the number and diversity of birds we are reporting. Looking back in the archives I noted in 2007 we had 27 birders on the count. In 2022, we almost broke 60 participants. And the birds…we had a record breaking 77 species.
Many species of warblers were seen and a record-breaking rare bird alert of a Western Kingbird spotted at Huguenot Flatwater has had birders flocking in from all over the state.
Perhaps the count could be run differently, more scientifically or with official data sheets and checklists. I feel, ‘if it ain’t broke…’
I hope you’ve enjoyed this part of RAS history; if you have not experienced the LRWC, my hope is this article will give you the impetus to sign up!
My sincerest thanks to Mary Arginteanu, a true RAS treasure for sharing some history of the LRWC as well as hosting us into their home for decades.