Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Captree Christmas Bird Count LI...

Shane helping out Shai and Pat at the Captree Compilation Dinner
Following the Montauk CBC, the next day, December 19th, it was another early rise for the Captree Christmas Bird Count. As part of my assignment, I had to get to the Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge on LI for a couple of target birds. By 6:35 a.m. I had picked up both, Virginia Rail and Eastern Screech Owls. As a bonus, I added a Great Horned Owl and a Black Crowned-night Heron.  After picking up the target birds, I met up with the folks who were going to bird in our assigned territory. My partner for the day happened to be, Joan Quinlan, you may remember Joan from previous birding escapades.  I was happy that Joan and I were teaming up because we had birded before and that was a plus.  Before meeting with Joan, a few us took the trail at Scully's and birded the loop that took us out to one section of the marsh.  We picked up a few birds, with the best being a Belted Kingfisher.  Once back at the visitor's center at Scully, we checked out the feeders, picking up a few additional birds then we convened with the team and reviewed assignments.

The entire group then walked over to the Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge also known as Seatuck Estates and split up into two groups.  My group consisted of Joan, Steve Terr and I.  We got right to it, doing our ground and pound going off trail and poking around anywhere we thought birds could be found.  Steve was kept quite busy jotting notes as Joan and I began rattling off species as fast as we spotted them.  Joan and I continued pounding the area with Steve becoming concerned about us not meeting back with the group, which puzzled Joan and I since no time table was set when we split.  There was no way Joan and I was going to blow through this area without giving it a good work over and that is what we did.  By then, Steve was getting phone calls from the other half of the team who apparently had arrived at the place where were supposed to reconvene and had not seen us.  We ignored Steve's pleas (sorry old chap), to meet with the rest of the team, continuing to bird the area and as a result got some good birds.  The finds, seemed to encourage Steve who by now had realized there was no curbing Joan and I, so he just tagged along.  We finally left the area with some excellent birds, including what turned out to be the best bird of the count, an Ovenbird, which I found tucked away in a brush pile under a Holly Tree.  Brown Thrasher, Field Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Swamp Sparrow, Golden Crowned-Kinglets and Wilson's Snipe were some of the other good birds found at that location.  After leaving Seatuck NWR, we met up with the rest of the team back at Scully's.

After briefly comparing notes with the rest of the team, Joan and I decided that we were going to split from the group and hit the East Islip Marina before heading over to the Arboretum.  Kathy Krause from the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, who had shown up to participate, decided to join us and so off we went in search of birds.  After a quick restroom stop, we began to immediately rack up birds for our count, picking up many new species for the day.  I was in the midst of getting Joan on an Eastern Towhee (our first of the day) when the rest of the team contacted us.  They were going to join us at the Arboretum.  We waited for their arrival and again split up the group.

Joan and I broke off leaving the rest of the team to decide if they were going to go as a group of 7 or divide into smaller groups.  We birded the lakeside adding many new day birds including Common Merganser, American Wigeon, Swamp Sparrow, Tree Sparrows, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, Carolina Wrens, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Hermit Thrush.  We spent a couple of hours combing the area, then hit a few small ponds on the way back to Scully.  When we got to Scully, the rest of the team were already there and getting ready to leave. We took their count numbers and then Joan and I got together to review our species count before attending the compilation.  Our group ended with a total of 59 species.  Of the 59, we had 4 saves (see my post on Montauk that explains what is a save) that included the Ovenbird.  Overall, the Captree Christmas Count ended with 119 species.  Even though I was working on back to back CBC's, I had managed all of our assignments. It was a terrific day of birding that wrapped up, with a very nice compilation dinner.  Hopefully, I get to do this again next year. P.S. to my readers, sorry I have no photos of the birds seen. When doing a whirlwind run of birding I avoid the camera so as not to slow down the team.

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Cindy said...

Hi Andrew- Quite a whirlwind birding tour! Did not realize so many species stuck around for winter. Maybe they just show up for you :-) Also picked up the name of a refuge I had never heard of (Seatuck). Thanks. Someday I would love to 'tag along' ~ Cindy


Hi Cindy - We did not do too shabby. Though, Joan I and would have loved to work over the Seatuck Estates (Seatuck NWR) some more.

We should definitely bird. Maybe, you could join the count next year?.