The 12th annual Ulster/Dutchess (NYUD) Christmas Bird Count was conducted on Wednesday, December 28th under partly cloudy conditions. Temperatures were benevolent for an early winter’s day starting with a low of 24 at 4:00 a.m. and reaching a high of 38 midday. Winds were variable and seemed to pick up in intensity mid-morning with some sectors experiencing gusts close to 20 mph while no adverse effects were encountered on larger water bodies, the Hudson River, and her main tributaries. A thin to partial covering of ice was noted on many smaller ponds. The predawn nocturnal hours were still and overcast and seemingly ripe for owling .
44 birders in 18 field parties along with four feeder watchers contributed in the ten sectors of the NYUD circle that includes parts of the Towns of Hurley, Woodstock, Ulster, Kingston, Saugerties, and the City of Kingston in Ulster County, parts of the Towns of Rhinebeck and Red Hook in Dutchess County, parts of the Towns of Clermont and Germantown in Columbia County, and the tiniest slice of Greene County near Cementon.
This year 19,636 individuals representing 83 species were identified on count day along with seven additional species for the count week (12/25/22-12/31/22). The NYUD has averaged 84 species/ 17,500 individuals the first 11 years it’s been conducted. Two new species were added to the composite NYUD list now standing at 133 species. A pair of Green-winged Teal in Sector E and a drake Redhead observed in Sector I were part of a diverse waterfowl day where 16 species were identified. Marsh Wren (presumably the same individual) was observed for the third straight year in roughly the same location at the Great Vly in Sector B. Also in Sector B was a brief appearance from four Red Crossbill representing the only true winter finches on this year’s count. A Red-headed Woodpecker hopefully part of a developing colony was seen farther north than on a previous count along the Beaverkill in Sector A. An American Coot in Sector C, Rusty Blackbirds in Sector D, a Purple Finch in Sector F, two Fox Sparrows in Sector E, the count’s lone Hermit Thrush in Sector G, the count’s lone Sharp-shinned Hawk in Sector H, and the count’s lone Snow Geese in Sector J illustrate how all field parties contributed with not just important “saves” but quality additions to the circle effort.
Before count day a long visiting Yellow-throated Warbler was stationed just a few hundred yards outside the circle and looked to be ready to garner the title “what could have been” bird for this year’s NYUD. But the report of a female Barrow’s Goldeneye post count put many eyes on the Hudson and confirmed this great “CW” but miraculously led to the even better discovery of a female Harlequin Duck which stands as the first Ulster County record of this species. A Northern Shoveler was another wonderful find and coupled with Lesser Scaup brought our count week total to 20 species of waterfowl.
High counts were set for eight species; Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Barred Owl, and Tufted Titmouse.
Low counts were set for two species; Sharp-shinned Hawk and Belted Kingfisher
Winter vagrant wanderers like Snowy Owls, most winter finches, and rare gulls went undetected this year.
I must say it was nice to gather with 27 NYUDers again for a post count compilation and meal at Kingston’s Hasbrouck Park Stone Building after a two year hiatus. Especially exciting was to have young Zade Pacetti join us in the field and become the youngest participant in the NYUD’s history.
Many thanks to all who birded, brought food, and helped clean up like in the good old “normal” days.
I wish you all a healthy and bird-filled New Year.
Co- Compiler Ulster/Dutchess (NYUD) Christmas Bird Count
Save the date: NYUD CBC 2022, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27TH