NYSOA NY State Waterfowl Count – January 15, 2022

The Ulster County segment of the annual NYSOA New York State January Waterfowl Count was conducted on January 15, 2022. Eighteen participants in ten field parties encountered 4,384 individuals representing 13 species. Our ten-year average for this countywide effort is 13 species and 6,932 individuals/year.

More than a week of sub-freezing temperatures solidified most sources of water, concentrating waterfowl in small patches of rapids or warm inflows. Fields were free of ice and snow, providing good forage opportunities for geese. Weather conditions on count day were cold, air temperatures ranging from 2-14° F with a bitter wind chill along the Hudson River. Viewing conditions were good, with mostly sunny skies early in the day, followed by increasing clouds by afternoon.

Two Green-winged Teal was a good find in a spring-fed wetland in Eddyville. Esopus Creek at Glenerie Falls in Saugerties hosted a large congregation of waterfowl consisting of seven species, including a drake Northern Pintail and a drake American Wigeon. Another Northern Pintail was encountered in the Sawkill Creek along Sawkill Road, and a record high 55 Ring-necked Ducks were tallied, surpassing last year’s record 33, with most of the birds in a large raft on Binnewater Lake. Hooded Mergansers were also found in record high numbers, 76 eclipsing 61 from last year, well above our ten-year average of 17/year.

Canada Geese were relatively few in number this year, a total of 3,227 individuals falling well short of our 5,422 ten-year average. We did not find any unusual species of geese mixed with the flocks of Canadas, and there were no reports of the Barrow’s Goldeneye or scaup seen recently in the Hudson River from River Road, despite the presence of a rare Mountain Bluebird attracting crowds of birders to Esopus Meadows Preserve throughout the day.

In addition to the bluebird and waterfowl, field observers reported a surprisingly small number of Bald Eagles (8 adults and 2 immature), three Belted Kingfishers, two Great Blue Herons, one American Kestrel, and a Golden Eagle that was encountered along the Sawkill Creek in Zena.

Follow this link for the full report along with a table of count results. The following table summarizes the 2022 Ulster County results by area, followed by field party effort and area descriptions. Thanks to all of the field observers for providing extensive coverage of the county again this year.  Next year’s Ulster County segment of the NYSOA NYS January Waterfowl Count is scheduled for Saturday, January 14, 2023.

Steve M. Chorvas – compiler