The Captree June count, in its fifth year since being reinstated in 2015, was conducted in southwestern Suffolk County by 31 participants on 8 June, a near-perfect weather day, 53-75° with a few clouds in a mostly sunny sky. A northeast breeze picked up as the morning progressed, keeping it comfortably cool. One area was covered on Friday and some extra species were picked up on Sunday, both also excellent weather days. Bob and Michelle Grover once again hosted our compilation party at their beautiful home and garden, always a highlight of the day.
We tallied a total of 130 species, equaling the recent record from 2017. New to the count were Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Arctic Tern, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Eastern Bluebird, Nelson’s Sparrow, and Blue Grosbeak, and the cumulative list now stands at 170 for 2015-19. Evidence of breeding was documented for at least 88 species. In terms of negatives, seawatching was dismal, and we barely eked out Northern Gannet, Common Loon and a few scoters despite intense effort, missing shearwaters and other oceanic birds that are almost expected with a concerted effort in June. Apart from pelagic species, bad misses were few, the most notable being Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Black-billed Cuckoo, and Great Horned Owl. Common species that showed poorly included Yellow-billed Cuckoo (3 vs. a five-year average of 12); Brown Thrasher (5 vs. 11); Black-capped Chickadee (34 vs. 48); and Blue-winged Warbler (6 vs. 9)—especially given that most other species co-occurring with these were counted in robust numbers, reflective of strong effort. Many species were recorded in very large numbers this year. To some extent this was probably a function of good weather, strong effort, and observer skill continuing to improve in this relatively new endeavor. But in other cases the data appear to be capturing population increases, for instance in a number of species that have shown consistent upward trends. An interesting example involves Lesser Black-backed Gull, which has progressed as follows over the five years of this study: 1, 4, 15, 22, and 39. Ospreys also have increased in each successive year and leaped to a stupendous total of 172 this year, from 111 last year. Carolina Wrens shrugged off their latest bout with the Polar Vortex and decisively bested the previous max of 81 with a total of 130 this year. Least Terns have a thriving colony at Democrat Point this year and leaped more than 300% above their five-year average. The inscrutable Northern Rough-winged Swallow surged to 11 this year, up from 5 last year and 2 in in 2017—the first year it was recorded at all. This species shares ecological associations in the northeastern United States with Warbling Vireo, and it appears to be following that species at a lag in filling in one of the last remaining gaps in its breeding distribution in this region, namely the coastal plain of southwestern Long Island. These species (and also Orchard Oriole), despite thriving together in some of the most horrible-looking habitat imaginable, remained inexplicably localized as breeders on Long Island until very recently. Among the many other positives, Bald Eagles and Red-shouldered Hawks had young in their nests, and Yellow-throated Warbler was tallied for the fifth consecutive year. Brown Pelican was recorded for the second time; Least Bittern was found again after being missed last year; and Arctic Tern returned to the Captree June Count 20 years after “the one that started it all” in 1999, at a time when the original phase of the count was winding down. But in terms of regional significance, three Northern Saw-whet Owls are surely the most astounding—and deserving of the Bird of the Count award! Thanks again to Bob and Michelle, all the observers, and especially the six people new to the count. Shai & Pat Bay Shore -- 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/ --