This was our 32nd year of participation as Cobble Mtn Circle in National Audubon’s Christmas Count. Here’s a rundown of how we did this year compared to past years. We brought in a total of 69 species, the second highest species count ever and the highest since 2001. Observer number and hours in the field were on the high side of average, and miles covered was a bit lower than average. Water was unfrozen for the most part. The temperature ranged between 45-49 degrees F, but clouds prevailed and the winds were almost constant out of the NW at 10-25 mph.
There were several species found in higher numbers than usual. Of these, three species that continue to extend their winter range, an all-time high of 8 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and 45 Carolina Wrens, and the second high count of Red-bellied Woodpeckers at57. Also high were counts of American Tree Sparrow at 89, highest count since 2006, and Swamp Sparrow at 4, highest count since 2004.
There was just one species found in notably lower numbers than usual. The Cedar Waxwing count of a single bird this year was the lowest ever in count history.
We were fortunate to find some rarer species. An American Coot and a Ruddy Duck were spotted on Congamond. The last time these species were recorded was in 2014. The Ruddy Duck is very sporadic on the count and the Coot has been sporadic over the last 20 years. Two Pine Siskins were spied on a feeder in Granville. It is only the second time this species was counted in the last ten years. We also got Eastern Towhee for the first time in 11 years. The count for towhee has been sporadic throughout. Merlin was counted by two teams and has been spotted only three other times in the Cobble Mtn Count. Saw-whet Owl was heard in Granville for the first time since 2015. Finally, a Killdeer was found for the first time ever in count history.
Unfortunate misses this year were Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, Horned Lark, and Eastern Screech Owl.
One count week bird was added by Dorrie Holmes, and that was Bufflehead.
Click below to view or download complete count results.