Here’s a rundown of how we did this year compared to past years. We brought in a total of 68 species, the fourth highest species count and the highest in the last 15 years. Observer number, hours in the field, and miles covered were all in the average range. Water was unfrozen for the most part. The temperature ranged between 35-45 degrees F, but winds picked up in the afternoon and gusts were strong.
There were many species found in higher numbers than usual. All averages are 31-year averages and an asterisk signifies the highest count recorded for that species over the 31 Cobble Mtn counts. Canada Geese came in at an all-time high of 6040*, while the average is 1190. Black Duck at 108 was almost double the average of 56. Hooded and Common Mergansers were both counted at all-time highs, Hooded 61* with an average of 12 and Common 728* with an average count of 78. Hawks gave us good numbers, too. We counted 13* Cooper’s Hawks with a previous average of 4, Red-shouldered Hawk count of 5* was matched in 2019, with at least one reported each year since 2012. Even Redtails were high at 50* when the average is 28. We also counted 2 Northern Harriers, only sighted in 4 of the other 31 years. Our Hermit Thrush count was 5*, which was only matched in 2014. Finally, Red-winged Blackbirds were spotted by three teams, with a total of 603* birds, far above the average of 75.
There were just a few species found in lower numbers than usual. We only spotted 3 Turkeys, while the average is 34. Red-breasted Nuthatch was among its lowest numbers at just 2 birds. The Northern Cardinal count was just 59, with an average of 97. We were lucky to count one each of Screech, Great Horned, and Barred Owls, which is more a reflection of effort than a downward trend.
There were many good finds this year, too. Snow Goose (4*) was recorded on only two other count years. Wood Ducks (2) were last reported in 2013. When not frozen, Congamond Ponds can add a number of waterfowl species and this year was no different. Viewpoints overlooking Middle Pond gave us a highest ever number of Pintail (10*) and Ringnecks (10*), one spot offered a Greater Scaup and 2 Lessers, and South Pond granted one team a Bufflehead. Great Blue Heron was counted by three teams, one bird each. Songbirds not found regularly included Catbird (1), Savannah Sparrow (4), Swamp Sparrow (2) and a first-ever Veery, a highly unusual species for this date.
Unfortunate misses this year were Horned Lark, Field Sparrow and Purple Finch.
Count week birds added by Dorrie Holmes and Al and Lois Richardson were Goldeneye (2), Ruddy Duck (2) and Red-breasted Merganser (1), all at Congamond on December 24th.
It was a good year, thanks to the efforts of all participants!
Click below to view or download complete count results.