The 2018 Ulster/Dutchess (NYUD) Christmas Bird Count was conducted on Saturday, December 29. 49 individuals representing 15 field parties and one feeder watcher covered the ten sectors within this count circle. Participants enjoyed moderate winter temperatures ranging from a high of 52 degrees during the early morning nocturnal effort to a low of 42 degrees at the end of the day’s diurnal effort. These conditions (along with a rainy late fall-early winter) meant water levels were high and void of ice and there was no snow cover in the circle. Winds did pick up periodically but did hamper observation on the Hudson River or other larger bodies of water and did not adversely affect passerine viewing. All field parties did note oddly quite days with some common species difficult to locate. This too may reflect on moderate conditions and the fact that birds were not forced to congregate on small patches of open water or exposed ground.
Unusual non-avian observations included a whooping four mustelid species, Wood Frogs and peepers vocalizing, various active insect species, and a guy washing his car in his driveway.
88 species and 14,007 individual birds were observed on count day. The species list was two above our average but the number of individuals was the second lowest total in the NYUD’s history and more than four thousand birds below the count average. A Common Yellowthroat identified at the Great Vly in the Town of Saugerties was the only new addition to our composite list which now stands at 127 species after eight years. Other highlights included a Gray Catbird and 36 Pine Siskins in West Saugerties with a soaring Golden Eagle and 3 Northern Saw-whet Owls in Kerley Corners. The Tivoli Bays area served up a good selection of waterfowl despite the heavy pressure of hunters including a Blue-winged Teal, 9 Northern Pintails, and 28 Canvasbacks. Notable in this sector as well were 12 Eastern Screech Owls and 109 Black Vultures aiding greatly in new high counts set for both species. The Rhinebeck area may have an exciting development of colonizing Red-headed Woodpecker with that species being observed for consecutive years. The small portion of the Ashokan Reservoir within our circle paid dividends with 5 Ruddy Ducksand a Common Loon while a newly accessible location in the Town of Ulster offered the count’s lone Common Redpoll and a sizable flock of 12 White-crowned Sparrows. A Chipping Sparrow in the Town of Ulster rounded out a robust list of 10 sparrow species for the count.
Interestingly all three falcon species were observed but exclusively in Dutchess County while 55 Bald Eagles were nicely distributed throughout the circle. Yellow-rumped Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Purple Finch, Savannah and Fox Sparrow were species represented by just one individual respectively. High numbers were recorded on 14 species and new low counts were tallied on 11 species including typical number-padding species like American Crow (less than half the average) and Dark-eyed Junco (about a one third the average).
Once again I must thank Steve Chorvas for his tutelage on CBC compiling and his patience and understanding with the annual barrage of questions I send his way. His data entry on count day and wonderful subsequent spreadsheet make my job much easier. I must also give a special thanks to Pat and Steve Johnson who helped with preparation of food, set up, and the breakdown of our well attended (33 NYUDers) post count compilation. Many others brought delicious food and drink and made our “apps and finger foods” themed get together a success. Lastly, as always, Jess Prockup, Wendy Tocci, and Kyla DeDea made sure our cleanup was done in a much appreciated timely and helpful manner.
I wish you all a Bird-filled and Healthy New Year,
Co-compiler NYUD CBC
SAVE THE DATE: 9th ANNUAL NYUD CBC SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2019