Christmas Bird Count 2 – Westport

31 12 2008
White-winged Scoter - Larry Flynn

White-winged Scoter - Larry Flynn

After lousy weather was predicted (and arrived) on December 21st Jim (my co-compiler) and I  made the decision to bump the Westport Christmas Bird Count up to this Saturday, December 28th. Obviously these kind of last minute changes bring the usual problems with team members dropping out due to previous commitments and no guarantee that the weather would be any better this weekend. In the end it wasn’t ideal but we struggled through the mist and a need to quickly build a scratch team to cover parts of Westport on the morning itself to get the count done.

All in all we had a great count with a representative number of species found (115 with most areas submitted). As always a few goodies were found and a few regular species were missed. The most uncommon species of the count were the continuing Snowy Owl seen from the beach in Penfield (amongst 6 species of owl seen) as well as a flyover White-winged Crossbill. Highlight though was the flock of 1169 White-winged Scoter that Larry Flynn and Alex Coffey found from the boat out to the Norwalk Islands, the first time a flock of this size has been seen on the count for over 30 years.

Most importantly everyone seemed to have had a fun day out and were thankful that we hadn’t tried to run the count the week before. We had a good number of new participants, which was fantastic, and something we hope to expand upon next year.

Also up was the number of feeder watchers. These feeder watchers make up an important part of the count and those I contacted seemed to have had great fun taking part. We didn’t have anything out of the ordinary at the feeders (like the Yellow-throated warbler on the Greenwich count) but it certainly helps us have a much better representation of what is out there.

Too many people to thank individually here but I just wanted to pass on thanks to all of those that helped out in the field, watched their feeders, helped publicize the event and got stuck in with all of the other organization that is required to make these kind of things happen with only a volunteer group. It was much appreciated.

Hopefully I learned a few things about how to make it even more successful next year. Until then, thanks everyone for getting involved.

Local Coverage in the Norwalk Hour (not quite what I remember saying but anyway these things happen with reporters) and The Advocate.

Christmas Bird Count 1 – New Canaan

15 12 2008
New Canaan Reservoir

New Canaan Reservoir

I arrived bight and early pre-dawn to hit the New Canaan portion of the Stamford/Greenwich Xmas Bird Count. The day got off to a flying start. As I scanned through a group of gulls sitting on the ice, they suddenly all flushed drawing my attention to a beautiful adult Bald Eagle that was flying the length of the reservoir towards me. It perched on a nearby island and would have provided the opportunity for a great digiscoped shot had it not been for my camera deciding it was way too cold to operate!

The reservoir is a beautiful spot and I soon tallied a good number (but surprisingly small variety) of waterfowl. I then met up with my co-CBC’ers for the day. Elsbeth has been doing this count for many years and recalls the time when Ruffed Grouse and Evening Grosbeak were not just a CT Xmas bird counters dream (conversely of course there were no eagles at that time thanks to the killer influence of DDT) and Melody a enthusiastic beginner birder. We hit a good number of spots on the day and worked hard for our birds, grabbing just a quick sandwich lunch at New Canaan Nature Center.

It was a fun but exhausting day in the field which culminated with 44 species of bird. It’s always amazing what birds can be missed during these kind of count situations but even I was shocked to realize that I didn’t have an American Robin on the day until one chattered up a warning as I crept out of the reservoir in the near dark.

Birds and Numbers on the day:

Canada Goose (83), Mallard (103), American Black Duck (87), Ring-neck Duck (12), Bufflehead (3), Common Merganser (287), Hooded Merganser (16), Ruddy Duck (48), Turkey Vulture (7), Bald Eagle (1), Sharp-shinned Hawk (1), Red-tailed Hawk (7), Wild Turkey (4), Ring-billed Gull (15), Herring Gull (2), Great Black-backed Gull (2), Mourning Dove (5), Belted Kingfisher (1), Red-bellied Woodpecker (5), Northern Flicker (2), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1), Downy Woodpecker (7), Hairy Woodpecker (1), Blue Jay (7), American Crow (191), Tufted Titmouse (31), Black-capped Chickadee (28), Brown Creeper (1), White-breasted Nuthatch (9), Winter Wren (1), Carolina Wren (7), Golden-crowned Kinglet (1), Eastern Bluebird (4), Hermit Thrush (2), American Robin (1), Northern Mockingbird (2), Cedar Waxwing (3), Song Sparrow (13), White-throated Sparrow (39), Dark-eyed Junco (47), Northern Cardinal (16), American Goldfinch (21) House Sparrow (10)