Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Quabbin C.B.C. Twenty-fives years and counting

The twenty-fifth Quabbin Christmas Bird Count took place on December 29, 2012. When Jim Lafley and I set this count into motion twenty-five years ago,  we knew that this count would become one of Massachusetts most remote/rural of the Christmas bird counts in the state. While some of the areas at Quabbin seem to be a bird-less,  frozen wilderness. Participants get to travel into areas behind the locked gates and encounter areas that once played host to thriving communities, before they were removed in favor of a water supply for Boston and other Eastern Mass communities. However, the count has a few claims to fame for the first twenty-five years- We hold the North American record for the most Northern Saw-whet Owls..(61) and we usually have State high counts for things like Bald Eagles,  Pileated Woodpeckers, Common Ravens, and some years for Red-breasted Nuthatch- our all time high is (1886). 

We've also experienced some interesting weather over the years. Everything from sunny near 50 degrees (not many of those days) to light rain/fog...light snow to an all out BLIZZARD that cut the count short that year, but we got the count into the books. Another cool thing about the Quabbin count is the mammals, it seems each area gets an interesting mammal sighting during the day. We tallied up an impressive list over the years.
This years count was fairly uneventful, but we did get a new high count for Hairy Woodpecker. The weather probably kept birds down a bit...Overcast with a late afternoon snowstorm approaching. Everyone made it home safe, but it kept the tally at Headquarters rather subdued with just a handful of observers. 

Complete list below. 

Area 43/Horseshoe Dam. Most water frozen, limited road access because of recent snowstorm.

Certainly of one the days highlights was this 25th Anniversary cake presents to Myself and Jim Lafley by David Spector......Thanks David! 

A few of the survivors 

Saying good-bye to David Peake-Jones at the visitor's center- Storm gaining steam at this point.

                                                                  Quabbin C.B.C. (Dec 29, 2012)

Happy New Year,

Despite the impending Nor'easter, we managed to get the Quabbin  Christmas Count into the books.  Generally overall numbers were down, but we ended the day with 67 species, along with two new highs.  Road access inside of the reservoir wasn't too bad considering a snowstorm a few days earlier. Temperature ranged from 16-30 degrees with overcast skies. The snow didn't really get going until 3pm, by that time most areas had started to call it a day. Complete list below…

Canada Goose 18
Wood Duck 1-3rd record.
American Black Duck 131
Mallard 66
Ring-necked Duck 5
Common Goldeneye 57
Hooded Merganser 85
Common Merganser 26
Ruffed Grouse 5
Wild Turkey 154
Common Loon 15
Horned Grebe 10
Red-necked Grebe 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Bald Eagle 11 (3 Imm/8 Ad)
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3
Cooper’s Hawk 3
Red-tailed Hawk 22
Ring-billed Gull 49
Herring Gull 13
Rock Pigeon 87
Mourning Dove 188
Eastern Screech-Owl 1
Great Horned Owl 12
Barred Owl 9
Northern Saw-whet Owl 6
Belted Kingfisher 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker 27
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1-3rd record.
Downy Woodpecker 156
Hairy Woodpecker 62-new high
Northern Flicker 3
Pileated Woodpecker 23
Northern Shrike 1
Blue Jay 141
American Crow 146
Common Raven 27
Black-capped Chickadee 1026
Tufted Titmouse 292
Red-breasted Nuthatch 376- 2nd highest count/ Most inside of Quabbin.
White-breasted Nuthatch 210
Brown Creeper 39
Carolina Wren 3
Winter Wren 3
Golden-crowned Kinglet 97
Eastern Bluebird 45- New High.
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin 160
Northern Mockingbird 6
E.Starling 221
American Tree Sparrow 173
Song Sparrow 22
White-throated Sparrow 52
Dark-eyed Junco 714
Snow Bunting 49
Northern Cardinal 100
Red-winged Blackbird 3
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Pine Grosbeak 19-( 8) still feeding on crabapples at Quabbin HQ.
Purple Finch 1
House Finch 58
Red Crossbill 6-( Gate 40)
White-winged Crossbill 9-(Gate 40)
Common Redpoll 302
American Goldfinch 124
Evening Grosbeak 27 (Hardwick/Petersham/North Dana)
House Sparrow 250

67 species

River Otter 3
Red Squirrel 21
Gray Squirrel 35
Flying Squirrel 1
Beaver 1
White-tailed Deer 9
Eastern Chipmunk 1