[CT Birds] Connecticut Christmas Bird Count 2012-2013 (Part 2)

Stephen Broker ls.broker at cox.net
Wed Mar 6 21:30:11 EST 2013

From Steve Broker (Cheshire):

Part 2. Rails through Owls

Rails:  The 6 Clapper Rails counted (3 at New Haven, 1 at Old Lyme-Saybrook, 2 at Westport) were in average numbers.  New London recorded the only Virginia Rails (2) this year, a 30-year low.  The Morris Creek Marshes below Tweed-New Haven Airport have dried up in recent years for this species, in spite of extensive efforts to confirm their presence.  Note to Old Lyme-Saybrook:  we’ve always counted on you for Virginia Rail and expect good things next year.  All coastal counts struck out with Sora this year.  A total of 15 individuals have been heard or seen in 30 years of CBCs.  It’s a very challenging rail to find.  American Coot (184 this year) exceeds most bird species in variability of numbers, ranging from a high of 1,266 in 1994-95 to a low of 11 in 1989-90.  Within that broad latitude, this year’s total is about half strength.


Plovers, Oystercatcher:  Black-bellied Plover (28) has dropped in numbers in the last 4 years.  We had the highest count of Killdeer in 13 years, with 26 at Storrs and 48 at New Haven.  It’s always nice to record American Oystercatcher, and this year New Haven found 2 and Stratford-Milford recorded the species CW.


Sandpipers:  High to average numbers were recorded for Greater Yellowlegs, Sanderling, and American Woodcock.  Ruddy Turnstone (41) and Purple Sandpiper (44) established new 30-year low counts.  Dunlin (406) was in short supply, in spite of 360 at Stratford-Milford.  An impressive 22 Wilson’s Snipe at Storrs and an additional 13 along the coast produced the highest total for this species in 19 years.


Gulls and Terns:  Black-legged Kittiwake has been seen 4 times in 30 years, and one CW at New London constitutes a nice rarity.  Bonaparte’s Gull (21), with its second lowest total in 30 years, appears to have gone into exile.  Laughing Gull (0 of course – you must be joking!).  Ring-billed Gull (10,675) set a new 30-year low, and Herring Gull (11,271) was counted in third-lowest numbers during this time period.  One Iceland Gull at Hartford saved us from missing this species for the first time in 30 years.  One Lesser Black-backed Gull at New Haven and 2 at New London made for a nice total.  Great Black-backed Gull (647) achieved a new 30-year low, dropping below last year’s then-record low of 757.  The COA conservation committee should consider holding a garbage drive for the Bloomfield-Windsor Landfill.  (On further thought, it’s probably quietly in the works already . . .)  Common Tern (0) – just checking to see if you’re paying attention.  Actually, this is not completely fishy, because 1 Common Tern was seen at Stratford-Milford in 1973-74.


Alcids:  Razorbill (22) now has been counted for 11 successive years.  Florida may be less than impressed after this CBC season.  No murres were counted this CBC season in spite of valiant efforts to record them by ferry.


Pigeons and Doves:  Rock Pigeon (4,683) achieved 30-year low totals.  You can’t pin this one on peregrines.  Also, Mourning Doves (4,323) were at a 30-year low.  Well, truth be told, peregrines like to eat doves, too.  Still and yet . . .


Parrots:  See, I did get falcons next to the parrots!  Monk Parakeet (291) peaked at 1,074 in 2003-04.  New Haven did count 174 this year, and Stratford-Milford found 89.  Over the last 10 years there’s been a sharp slide downward.  Very illuminating.


Owls:  Both Eastern Screech-Owl (130) and Great Horned Owl (74) were called up at near-record low totals, and Northern Saw-whet Owl was heard in reduced numbers.  Short-eared Owl was missed for the 5th time in 30 years.  Please don’t falter with your admirable nocturnal birding efforts, you night owls.  Barred Owl (52) was comparable to last year’s numbers.  There has been much talk of stressed Barred Owls showing up in atypical settings both prior to and following this year’s CBC season.  Long-eared Owl (7 – average) provided the only semi-upbeat nocturnal news.  We all know incursion years, and this was no Snowy Owl incursion year.  

More information about the CTBirds mailing list