The 2017 Montauk CBC (the 88th since the first count in 1920) took place on Saturday 16 Dec and was yet again accompanied by a winter weather advisory, ugh! The snowfall ended around midnight on the 15th leaving 1-4 inches on the ground. Temperatures rose during the day from a crisp predawn 25F to a more comfortable 39F at dusk. Not surprisingly most bodies of freshwater within the count circle were either partially or entirely frozen.
For the human counters the wind provided the biggest challenge, blowing across Long Island Sound from the WNW for much of the day, sometimes gusting to more than 20 mph. Not surprisingly there were lots of red cheeks and watery eyes at the compilation. Luckily the wind had dropped sufficiently by mid day for a party to make the bumpy crossing to Gardiner’s Island allowing an abbreviated survey of this important territory, although as it turned out the freshwater ponds were also frozen and essentially devoid of the needed waterfowl. Nonetheless the forty-one participants tallied a very respectable total of 122 species plus two distinctive subspecies, with at least one additional species (Common Merganser) recorded during count week. A total of 27,137 individual birds were logged. Highlights included a PINK-FOOTED GOOSE at Montauk Downs golf course (2nd record for count), 2 KING EIDER, 1 RING-NECKED PHEASANT, 1 RED-NECKED GREBE, 2 GREAT EGRET, 3 BALD EAGLE, 3 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, 2 VIRGINIA RAIL, 4 WILSON’S SNIPE, 4 AMERICAN WOODCOCK, 2 ICELAND GULL, 1 GLAUCOUS GULL, 1 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, 1 BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, 15 EASTERN SCREECH OWL, 2 GREAT HORNED OWL, 4 SNOWY OWL, 1 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, 3 FISH CROW, 1 COMMON RAVEN (2nd for count), 1 TREE SWALLOW (1st since 2005), 33 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, 1 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, 6 PALM WARBLER, 1 NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Lake Montauk shore, 3rd for count), 1 COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, 1 YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Kirk Park), 4 CHIPPING SPARROW, 1 GRASSHOPPER SPARROW (Hither Hills SP Camp Ground, 4th for count), 1 LAPLAND LONGSPUR (1st since 2007), and 31 EASTERN MEADOWLARK. We also added one new taxon to the already lengthy list, with a winter adult male AUDUBON’S (YELLOW-RUMPED) WARBLER in a stand of pines within the main Napeague marsh. This regional rarity was discovered by Derek Rogers on 2 Dec and refound by Derek and Pete Morris on count day. Painful misses included several species of freshwater ducks (wigeon, anybody?), Short-eared Owl, American Pipit, Brown Creeper and Purple Finch. Our warmest thanks to the brave participants for being out in the field with us, the Suffolk County Park, Gardiner’s Island and Nature Conservancy staff who enabled us to survey important areas and to Frank Quevedo and the South Fork Museum of Natural History (SoFo) for hosting a splendid compilation dinner. Next year’s count will be held on Saturday 15 Dec 2018, please mark your calendars. As Uncle Sam might say - THE MONTAUK COUNT NEEDS YOU! Angus Wilson and Karen Rubenstein, Co-compilers -- NYSbirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://firstname.lastname@example.org/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L 3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01 Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --