Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Christmas Bird Counts: Westport

Good morning everyone! Before I get to talking about the 2012 Christmas Bird Count season and my participation in Sunday's Westport count, I wanted to say we have changed our approach a little here at Connecticut Audubon Society. I am going to be blogging in this space with a specific focus on our natural world, from birds to bugs to plants and mammals, weather and climate change, birding and citizen science events like this, identification quizzes and tips, and more. If you are looking for more information on conservation issues, advocacy, and specific updates concerning Connecticut Audubon Society projects, you should also be reading the CAS Conservation blog here. We feel this better divides all of the wonderful information we have to impart to you and makes it easier for our readers to find exactly what they are looking for.

On that note, I joined my friend and expert birder Charlie Barnard this past Sunday for his section of the Westport CBC, the Fairfield shoreline. Several more friends came along for parts of the count as well, though between the cloudy, rainy, windy, foggy, wavy conditions and some of us fighting off viruses, we knew it would be one of the tougher days to get the count up. We hoped to near 50 species in the area, with around double that being the number the entire circle should arrive at in a decent year. Charlie had given us a bump for the count week at least as he had found a Razorbill the day before (more on them in an upcoming post!).

I think we did about as well as we could. As many of you know the little birds - passerines that visit your feeders and the like - dislike very windy or wet conditions, and we had both going for most of the time.

These Sanderling didn't mind the weather

We came up with 48 species plus two for the count week. The alcid was not to be on Sunday as visibility on the coastline was limited to a half mile or a quarter mile at times with large rolling waves obscuring anything that was not in flight and caught up by the wind. That Razorbill and a Sharp-shinned Hawk were the count week birds plus these that we found on Sunday:

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
American Black Duck
White-winged Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Cooper's Hawk
Ruddy Turnstone
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Barred Owls were found in two locations, an unsurprising but cool discovery given their movements this fall (once again more in an upcoming post!). Fox Sparrows are always terrific finds and a favorite of mine, and the Brown Thrasher is a good bird to tick off as well. The Brown Creeper was a pleasant surprise considering their scarcity and our coastal habitats, and Winter Wrens came up in a few spots in a relatively warm and snow-free December. Last year we actually had multiple warblers, but that was not to be this time around. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable day and I am looking forward to next weekend's Stratford-Milford count. Join any Christmas Bird Count you can to help further bird conservation, sharpen your skills, and make some new friends.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

Photo by Scott Kruitbosch © Connecticut Audubon Society and not to be reproduced without explicit CAS permission

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