Friday, January 12, 2001
Forty-three species tallied in annual Christmas Bird Count despite midday nor'easter
On Saturday, December 30, while many of their erstwhile birding companions were luxuriating in such far-off places as Paris, Hawaii and Trinidad, seven hard-core long-time Carlisle Christmas counters, aided and abetted by three out-of-town newcomers, braved the coldest early winter on record to search for all the birds of southern Carlisle for the annual Christmas Bird Count. This was the 28th consecutive year of this count in Carlisle and the 101
On the morning of the count, weather conditions were ideal: overcast (no sun in your eyes), windless, temperature in the mid-twenties to low thirties. But at midday a well-forecasted nor'easter struck, dumping nearly a foot of snow by the next morning and making birding, except for feeder-watching, next to impossible. Nevertheless, our hardy band recorded 1,936 individuals of 43 species, only one species short of the record 44 set in 1997. For comparison, last year's group of 13 observers found 2,600 individuals of 42 species.
Although no new count species were found, most unusual were 23 Common Grackles, 11 at Dot Clark's on Concord Street and 12 at the Zezimas' on Bedford Road. Grackles have not been seen on the count in Carlisle since 2 were found in 1990, and only 5 others were located in the entire Concord count circle. Other out-of-the-ordinary sightings were a Cooper's Hawk by Jean Keskulla off Concord Street and 35 Red-winged Blackbirds (found by several observers).
Several species were found in record numbers: 51 Northern Cardinals (previous high 50 in 1992), 5 Fox Sparrows (previous high 3 in 1989), 92 White-throated Sparrows (previous high 66 in 1976), and 457 Dark-eyed Juncos (more than double the previous high of 193, also in 1976). Also notable were a Northern Goshawk seen by Nina Nielsen on the edge of Estabrook Woods, 7 Carolina Wrens, 5 Eastern Bluebirds (a more normal count after last year's amazing 20), 53 American Robins (down from last year's 82, but second-highest count ever), 57 Cedar Waxwings, 3 Purple Finches (not very many, but the most of any town in the Concord count circle), and 2 Pine Siskins.
Significantly down were 23 Canada Geese (204 last year), 2 Red-tailed Hawks (6 last year), 46 Herring Gulls (lowest count since 1987), 8 Red-bellied Woodpeckers (lowest count since 4 in 1994), 139 Black-capped Chickadees (lowest count since 1975), 120 Tufted Titmice (192 last year), 48 white-breasted Nuthatches (lowest count since 1994), one lone Brown Creeper (lowest count since 1981), 5 Northern Mockingbirds (lowest count since 1979), 39 European Starlings (lowest count since 1977), 22 American Tree Sparrows (39 last year), and 22 House Finches (84 last year). Completely missed this year were Mallard (almost no open water this year), any owls, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.
Observers this year were Justin Brown, Sandy Cofran, Eric and Margaret Darling, Susan Emmons, Ken Harte (Carlisle coordinator), Marilyn Harte, Lyn Oleksiak, Nancy Schwarzel and Greg Southall. Thanks also to the feeder-watchers whose observations are always important for the count, and particularly so this year.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito