While the pelican known as “Lonesome Pete” didn’t exactly “save” the Guntersville Lake Christmas Bird Count, he did give the counters a species they didn’t have.
Despite an abundance of white pelicans all around the lake for the last month or so, the counters had not seen any in the annual bird count the day after Christmas. One of the counters was driving along the Warrenton Causeway and happened to see Pete happily paddling along behind the Guntersville Senior Center, one of his regular haunts. The sighting allowed the counters to add white pelican to their species tally.
Pete was named by Michael Kirkpatrick, who keeps tabs on the bird. Pete has an injured wing and can’t fly back north with the other pelicans when they leave in the spring. He had been spending summers alone on the lake, hence the name, until last year when a lady pelican spent the summer with him.
The Christmas Bird Count ended up getting 98 species rather than the 94 reported earlier.
“We had 3 oddities,” said Linda Reynolds, who coordinates the count. “We had a marsh wren at Guntersville Dam, a red-throated loon out from Seibold and 2 Virginia rails by Alred Marina.”
Waterfowl populations, including coots, were down in numbers. They’ve seemed to be down all winter.
“There were more cormorants than last year,” Reynolds said.