The 68th annual Mohonk Lake/Ashokan Reservoir Christmas Bird Count 
(Ulster County) was conducted on Saturday, 16 December 2017, under 
relatively pleasant weather conditions.  Collectively it was another 
exceptionally productive count, following last year's record-breaking 
number of species.   Pending review of several unusual species for this 
count circle, a tentative new high total of 87 species were found on 
count day, plus an additional 2 species during the count week period 
(Mute Swan and Merlin), exceeding last year's record 84 species and well 
above our ten-year average of 76 species/year.

Abundance also set a new record high, with 22,300 individuals greatly 
exceeding our previous high count of 16,092 birds in 2008 and our 
ten-year average of 13,242.  The total number of individuals was greatly 
influenced this year by 5,811 Canada Geese, a number that was adjusted 
down by more than 1,000 birds in an attempt to reduce potential 
duplication from roving flocks; and an incredible 3,504 American Robins 
(2,027 recorded by just one field party).  Our effort also set a new 
record high with 15 field parties, 44 field observers, and 4 feeder 
watchers contributing to the final numbers.

Highlights include our first record of a Greater White-fronted Goose, 
nicely photographed in a field associating with a large flock of Canada 
Geese, advancing our 68-year cumulative to 147 species.  Three species 
were recorded for only the second time in this count's history, a Golden 
Eagle observed in flight over the Farm Hub (our previous record in 
1998), and a Canvasback (previously 3 in 1972) and one White-winged 
Scoter (previously 4 in 2011) on Ashokan Reservoir.  A lone Eastern 
Phoebe was recorded for only the third time, and last appeared on this 
count in 2008.  Two Peregrine Falcons (single individuals observed by 
two separate field parties) represent our fourth count record and a new 
high count; and one Long-tailed Duck was also our fourth count record 
for this species, absent from this count since 1975.  (A Black Scoter 
was observed just outside the count circle and would have been a first 
count record, and photos of a possible Slaty-backed Gull are under 
review, with the gull currently listed as an unidentified gull species.)

None of the species found on this year's effort set a new record low 
count.  An additional 19 species were found in sufficiently high numbers 
to tie or set new record high counts (HC), with all of our regularly 
occurring woodpeckers detected in remarkably good numbers:

Cooper's Hawk (16, eclipsing 12 in 2015)
Red-shouldered Hawk (9, eclipsing 7 in 2014)
Great Horned Owl (14, double the previous HC of 7 in 2014 and well above 
our 2.4 ten-year average)
Barred Owl (7, tying the previous HC from 2010, double the ten-year 
average of 3.5)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (141, well above the previous HC of 101 in 2016 
and our ten-year average of 71)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (40, more than double our HC of 19 in 2016, 
four-times our ten-year average of 10/year)
Hairy Woodpecker (45, surpassing 40 in 2014)
Northern Flicker (47, nearly double our HC of 24 in 2015 and well above 
the 14.3 ten-year average)
Pileated Woodpecker (33, edging out 31 from 2011 and 2014)
(one Red-headed Woodpecker is always a good find, occurring for the 13th 
time on this count with a previous HC of 3 in 1984; and 158 Downy 
Woodpeckers just missed our previous HC of 161.)

Northern Shrike (1, tying our previous high counts, our 8th overall 
Winter Wren (12, eclipsing 8 in 2012, well above our ten-year average of 
Golden-crowned Kinglet (80, eclipsing 75 in 2009)
Hermit Thrush (13, edging out 12 in 2013)
American Robin (an amazing 3,504 birds, incomparable to our previous HC 
of 942 in 1998)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (14, tying our HC from 1989)
Fox Sparrow (11, surpassing 7 in 2015)
White-throated Sparrow (984, more than double the 488 recorded in 2008)
Song Sparrow (222, eclipsing 180 in 2012)
American Goldfinch (495, well above our previous HC of 335 in 2014)

A complete summary report will appear at a later date in the John 
Burroughs Natural History Society newsletter and on their website. 
Thanks to all of the participants for a remarkable effort, and once 
again this year a special thanks to Kyla Haber, Mark DeDea, and everyone 
that helped with preparing the food and facilities for the post-count 
compilation at Hasbrouck Park.

Steve M. Chorvas
Saugerties, NY 


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