From Simon Lane, compiler of the Great Swamp – Watchung Ridges Christmas Bird Count. The count was held on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015:
With one section yet to report, our count total stands at 84 species and 38,789 individuals on the day. (An average total of species for the count, and a better than average total number of birds)
We had 70+ participants, comprising 11 teams in at least fourteen different groups, and several feeder watches, covering our circle’s traditional areas.
The circle and sections can be seen on a google map which is linked below.
With unseasonably mild weather all through the late fall, leading right up to the count, the colder and windy conditions on Saturday were a sharp reminder of the actual date. The wind made it difficult at times, and a lot of groups worked hard for fairly slim pickings. The hoped for increased diversity did not actually materialize, with no real numbers of late lingerers or half-hardy species recorded.
Waterfowl were well represented in average numbers with Canoe Brook Reservoir producing Redheads again this year, and the count’s only Coot. A single Lesser Scaup in the Lenape section was also a less than usual sighting.
Vulture and Raptor sightings were fairly standard. Peregrine Falcon (two teams) and Merlin were less usual, but American Kestrel was missed again on the day.
Shorebirds were represented by a single Wilson’s Snipe seen at the GSNWR Overlook at dusk.
Gull numbers were down again this year.
The three expected Owls were secured, but the cold and windy pre-dawn hours kept most of them silent. A Barred Owl at who silently cruised in to perched close, and investigate our Screech Owl calls was welcome.
Three Red-headed Woodpeckers and better than usual numbers of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers rounded off the Woodpecker sweep. Good numbers of White-breasted Nuthatch all around, and both Kinglets made it on to the list, and whilst Ruby-crowned is certainly not normal for the count, Golden-crowned were scarce indeed.
Ravens were sighted by two teams, and strong numbers of Blue Jays recorded across the circle.
Marsh Wren was missed this year, but Winter Wrens were found by several teams
Cedar Waxwing and Eastern Towhees were seen this year by several groups.
Sparrow numbers were solid, and a group of Fox Sparrows in the GSNWR was one of the highlights for the management area team.
Blackbird and Starling numbers were strong, with thousands of Grackles streaming across the GSNWR Overlook at dusk in particular. Rusty Blackbirds were picked up in a couple of sections.
Purple Finches and a single Pine Siskin made it onto the count again this year.
The complete list of species seen is shown below.
I have second-hand reports of an potential Evening Grosbeak near the Wilderness Trail end of Whitebridge Road, and a report of Pine Warblers in the same section. I await some documentation and details on these sightings, which are not yet included in the totals.
Next year’s Great Swamp Watchung Ridges CBC will be held on SATURDAY 17th DECEMBER 2016 – Mark you calendars
Best Regards and Happy Holidays to all
|TOTAL COUNT||No. of Sections recording|
|American Black Duck||185||6|
|Great Blue Heron||9||5|
|* Bald Eagle||3||3|
|Great Horned Owl||4||3|
|* Red-headed Woodpecker||3||3|
|* Pileated Woodpecker||6||6|
|* Common Raven||2||3|
|American Tree Sparrow||68||9|