The 2019 Montauk Christmas Bird Count – actually the 90th in the Count’s history - was conducted on Saturday 21st December. After several years of miserable weather, this year’s count benefitted from a complete absence of precipitation and light winds. However, low temperatures persisted from the prior two days, freezing almost all standing freshwater within the circle. On the count day, temperatures ranged from 22 to 38° F.
Despite the frozen water, forty-nine participants in six territories recorded 123 species on count day. Two additional species were recorded during the count period. Highlights included PAINTED BUNTING (2nd count record—Point North), PRAIRIE WARBLER (2nd count record—Lake West), 2 BARROW’S GOLDENEYE (4th count record—Gardiner’s Island and Lake West), DOVEKIE (Lake West), four YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Point North, Point South, Accabonac, and Gardiner’s Island), KING EIDER (Lake West), CLAPPER RAIL (Accabonac), HARLEQUIN DUCK (Accabonac), RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (Napeague), ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (Point North), SHORT-EARED OWL (Point South), 10 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL (all territories), 2 EASTERN PHOEBE (Lake West and Accabonac), 2 RING-NECKED PHEASANT (Gardiner’s Island and Lake West), and NORTHERN BOBWHITE (Point South). Additionally, count week-only species included ATLANTIC PUFFIN (which would represent the count’s 1st record) from Montauk Point, NORTHERN SHRIKE along East Lake Drive, and BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE from Montauk Point. Strong observer effort, good coverage, and favorable weather resulted in several notable all-time high counts for the nearly 100-year-old CBC. These included 24 PINE WARBLER, 49 CHIPPING SPARROW, 90 SWAMP SPARROW, 882 SONG SPARROW, 52 EASTERN SCREECH-OWL, 14 GREAT HORNED OWL, 86 RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, 25 YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, 265 CAROLINA WREN, and 2,509 AMERICAN ROBIN. Despite only representing the fourth count record, participants in all six territories reported 12 COMMON RAVENS—further evidence of this species’ recent expansion across southern New York State and Long Island. Still, the cold temperatures and lack of open water resulted in several bad misses. Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, American Coot, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, and American Pipit was not recorded. Horned Lark was absent for just the twelfth time in the history of the count, likely due to population declines and habitat changes within the circle. We would like to thank the South Fork Natural History Museum and its Executive Director, Frank Quevedo, for generously hosting the compilation and providing dinner to our participants. And thanks to the Hampton Coffee Company for providing coffee to fuel our tired participants’ drive home. Finally, thank you to all our participants, territory leaders, and the Goelet Family and their staff on Gardiner’s Island for making this historic count possible. Mark your calendars for next year’s count, which will take place on December 19th, 2020. Please contact the compilers or territory leaders if you or your friends are interested in participating. Angus Wilson and Brent Bomkamp (co-compilers of the MTK CBC) -- 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/ --