The Southern Rensselaer Christmas Bird Count was conducted Saturday December 29 2019. Thirty participants in nine field parties tallied 63 species and 13,786 birds. This is the third-highest number of species in the past 20 years, topped only by 2001 and 2007 with 68 species both years, and well above the 20 year average of 57 species.
All major bodies of water were mostly open, with creeks and rivers flowing at a moderate rate while most still water was mostly frozen. The weather was more pleasant than it had been for the past few years, with no precipitation, light winds, and temps in the mid-30s to mid-40s. Only an inch or so of snow remained.
With lakes frozen and running water moving fast, we didn't have any surprises in the waterfowl department. Single Northern Pintail and Green-winged Teal were the only standouts. Some half-hardy species hung out in the mild weather -- Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Hermit Thrush, and Gray Catbird. A single Iceland Gull stood out in the flocks. Early owling parties found Eastern Screech and Great Horned Owls. Good numbers of raptors were seen, including all three falcons and the usual Black Vulture roost at HVCC. Six species of sparrows were found.
Given the bleak Finch Forecast, it was not surprising to strike out on Purple Finches, Common Redpolls, and Pine Siskins. Red-Breasted Nuthatches are still lingering up in the hills and were not seen on the count.
We wrapped up with our usual congenial compilation dinner at the Lakeview. I'm looking for quieter quarters for next year!
Thank you to everyone who participated in field parties or feederwatching. I hope to see you again next winter on December 26 2020 - mark your calendars!
A more detailed report will appear soon in FEATHERS.