Twenty-four birders participated in the fourth annual Carter's Lake Christmas Bird Count on December 23rd, 2010. After three years of great counting weather the wind finally hit us. With gusts up to 30 mph, the birding was quite unpleasant at times. Still, everyone got out there to find some great species and we ended the day with 98 total reported! Nine teams drove and walked 466.9 miles to count 17,051 individual birds. The wind really hurt our nocturnal effort, so we had very few owls. It also hurt the numbers of many other species, but it may have been instrumental in pushing some waterfowl in that seemed to be absent prior to the count. It probably helped gather some flocking species together as cruel weather puts many in extreme survival mode. Of the 98 species reported, 79 have been present on every count thus far. We lost three as annuals, since we missed Virginia Rail, Sora, and House Wren. We added eight new species to our count-day list(listed in accounts).
Teams were as follows:
Team 1 - Carter's Lake Section - Brandon Best, Bob Henderson, Bill Lotz
Team 2 - Pine Chapel Section - Paul Sykes, Dan Vickers
Team 3 - Coosawattee WMA Section- Carol Lambert, Jeff Sewell
Team 4 - Fite Bend Section- David Bennett, Mark Goins, Sandy Pangle, George Parsley, Phil
Team 5 - Salacoa Section - Ann Stewart, Stephen Stewart, Richard White
Team 6 - Dews Pond Section - Bob Babcock, Chris Lambrecht
Team 7 - Ranger Section - James Dietrich, Jennifer Dietrich, Joshua Dietrich, Joshua Spence
Team 8 - Coniston Section - Roy Brown, Max Medley
Team 9 - Stationary Reservoir Watch - Mark McShane
Below are the species accounts:
As Max Medley and Mark McShane were on their way to the countdown, they observed three GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE at the Mashburn Rd pond. This is the second record of this species on the count.
Team 4 found three SNOW GEESE and Team 5 observed a single one. This is the second time that this species has been observed on the count.
CANADA GOOSE numbers were well above the average with a solid 500 reported.
WOOD DUCK numbers were the lowest they've been, with only four being reported.
GADWALL numbers were slightly above average weighing in at 48 individuals.
MALLARD numbers were slightly below average with 67 total.
NORTHERN PINTAIL made it's first appearance on the actual count-day as the previous record was a count-week bird. This bird was found at the Carters reregulation pool.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL was observed during count-week.
REDHEADS were observed for the first time on this count. Both Team 1 and Team 3 reported this species, with a total of 10 birds.
RING-NECKED DUCKS were few and far between with only 28 total. This is well below the average.
After being a count-week species during the first two years and absent the third count, LESSER SCAUP made its way onto the count-day list. These were found at the Mashburn Rd pond by Team 4.
A beautiful COMMON GOLDENEYE drake was counted at the Carters reregulation pool. This is the circle's first record for that species.
HOODED MERGANSER numbers were below average with only 16 individuals reported.
This is the third year that RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS have made an appearance on the count. This year's total of 5 is the highest. These were at the Carters reregulation pool.
The 39 WILD TURKEYS counted this year is the new high count for the circle.
A covey of 12 NORTHERN BOBWHITES were flushed along Red Bone Ridge by Team 7.
Five COMMON LOONS were observed on the Carters Reservoir by McShane.
PIED-BILLED GREBES were slightly below average with only four being reported.
A single HORNED GREBE was observed by Team 1 on the Carters reregulation pool. This is the first official count-day record.
Five DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were observed on the Carters reregulation pool.
GREAT BLUE HERONS were observed in above average numbers, 27 in all.
113 BLACK VULTURES were counted, and interestingly this is the lowest number that has been reported from this circle.
292 TURKEY VULTURES were just eight individuals shy of the first counts high of 300.
One adult BALD EAGLE was observed at Carters Lake, making this four years in a row.
Surprisingly, the five NORTHERN HARRIERS found, represents a new high count for the circle.
An average number of two SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS were reported.
Eleven COOPER'S HAWKS becomes the new high count for the circle, beating last year by three individuals.
RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS have been reported in very high numbers for the last consecutive years. This year broke that trend with only eight birds counted! The average was 26, so this is a poor representation of the presence of that species.
RED-TAILED HAWKS were reported in slightly higher average numbers at 44 individuals, but still did not beat the high count of 54 in 2009.
A new high count of 27 AMERICAN KESTRELS were counted this year.
We had 384 SANDHILL CRANES this year, which also established a new high count record for the circle.
After extraordinarily high numbers of KILLDEER over the last few years, they were found in below average numbers this year. Nearly a 65% drop at 82 individuals.
Only three WILSON'S SNIPE were counted this year, all of which were reported by Team 2.
A single AMERICAN WOODCOCK was observed at dawn by Team 4. This low number was no doubt a product of high winds.
Team 1 observed one BONAPARTE'S GULL at the Carter's reregulation pool.
14 RING-BILLED GULLS represent the most that have been reported on count-day for this circle. Team 1 and Team 5 both added to this total.
ROCK PIGEON set a new high with a total of 343. 306 of these were observed by Team 4 on Fite Bend Rd.
EURASIAN COLLARED DOVES were observed during count-week on Fite Bend Rd.
MOURNING DOVES have been reported in good numbers for the last three years. Even though this year has been the lowest showing for this species, the count still yielded a hardy 223 individuals.
Nocturnal counting was greatly impacted by the high winds. EASTERN SCREECH OWL was the only one tallied this year. Team 1 was able to find three. This is the lowest number of this species since the counts inception.
The 17 BELTED KINGFISHERS observed this year, set the high-count for this species.
Four RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were just slightly below the average for the circle.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were reported in slightly below average numbers. There were 71 counted this year.
This was the lowest count for YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS thus far. Only 17 reported.
The DOWNY WOODPECKER also experienced its lowest turn-out for the count. Just slightly below average numbers at 38.
Six HAIRY WOODPECKERS were counted this year. This is the third time that this species has failed to reach double-digits.
NORTHERN FLICKERS were the lowest since the count began. Only 26 reported. Compare this to the annual average of 53.
PILEATED WOODPECKERS followed the low woodpecker trend with only 11 counted this year. Not the lowest showing thus far, but very close.
The 30 EASTERN PHOEBES that were reported, fell well below the average for this species.
Only a single LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE was observed in the circle this year. This bird was observed by Team 2 near Moss Rd, which is a north GA stronghold for this species.
Team 1 was able to locate a BLUE-HEADED VIREO, a first count record!
Even though it was only by two individuals, the 121 BLUE JAYS reported was the lowest count report for that species.
AMERICAN CROWS were out in record numbers. At 1388, this smashed the previous record of 579.
Team 1 and Team 7 both reported single FISH CROWS from their sections. This is the third time that this species has been reported from the circle. Wintering birds are slowly becoming the norm in some north GA locals.
Medley and McShane heard a COMMON RAVEN call several times from the ridge-top above the reservoir dam. This would most likely be one of the birds that I observed here on 12/05/2010. A pleasant surprise for the count, and one that I never expected to show up on this list.
Both CAROLINA CHICKADEE(178) & TUFTED TITMOUSE(127) set new high count numbers this year.
Two RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES were reported this time. Teams 5 and 7 found one each.
The 25 WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES were slightly below average. In contrast, the 65 BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCHES were slightly above average.
Only three BROWN CREEPERS were reported this time around. Two of which were found by Team 7 and the other by Team 2. This tied their low count for the circle.
The 90 CAROLINA WRENS were about thirty below their annual average.
WINTER WRENS were in descent numbers with 12 being reported from the circle. This is well above average for this species and only one shy from tying with the high count.
Kinglet numbers were extremely low this year. GOLDEN-CROWNEDS (29) were less than half of the average. RUBY-CROWNEDS (35) were not even 1/3 of the average.
This count puts out some of the highest statewide numbers of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS and this year was no different. There were 417 individuals reported this time. That is a new high count for the circle and exactly 100 higher than the previous record.
Slightly above the average, HERMIT THRUSHES came in with 27 reported.
799 AMERICAN ROBINS established a new high count for that species.
Team 6 found a GRAY CATBIRD, which is the second record for the circle.
117 NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS were only two shy of tying with the counts high.
Only 15 BROWN THRASHERS were reported, which was about average.
2331 EUROPEAN STARLINGS were reported.
The wind disallowed us to find more than 22 AMERICAN PIPITS. This was slightly below the count average.
CEDAR WAXWINGS were well above the count-average, coming in at 740.
The YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER total this year was lower than average, but we still had 95 in all.
The 28 PINE WARBLERS reported were above the count-average and only three individuals away from tying the high.
Only one PALM WARBLER was reported, which was a little low for that species.
Only 37 EASTERN TOWHEES were counted this time around, which was the lowest turn-out for that species thus far.
The 392 CHIPPING SPARROWS reported fell above the count-average.
FIELD SPARROWS were found in average numbers this year, 127 in all.
Team 2 found the only VESPER SPARROW for the count. This is the first time in the last four years that this species did not reach double-digits.
The SAVANNAH SPARROW number was extremely lower than the average but still beat the low-count by two indviduals. Only 76 birds were reported this count.
Only eight FOX SPARROWS were found on this years count. This was below average, but not the low-count.
Both SONG SPARROW (149) & SWAMP SPARROW (24) registered well below the average, establishing low-counts for those species.
The 221 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS reported were below the average, but not as low as last years 190.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were in high numbers this season. The 56 reported established a new high-count for the circle and may be a high statewide record. Most(22) being reported by Team 4.
DARK-EYED JUNCO numbers were slightly below average at 103.
NORTHERN CARDINALS were in above average numbers at 245.
1190 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were reported this year.
Just barely above the average were EASTERN MEADOWLARKS at 202 individuals.
45 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were a new high count for the circle. All of these were found by Team 2.
Team 2 also added 44 BREWER'S BLACKBIRDS to the tally. This is the first time this species has been recorded on this CBC.
4708 COMMON GRACKLES were counted, the lowest thus far.
Three BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS were observed.
This has been a great season for PURPLE FINCHES. 39 were reported on count-day, which was above average. Likewise, the HOUSE FINCHES set a new high at 37.
Team 3 found the only PINE SISKIN on the count.
AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES were the lowest since the count began. The 108 reported is only about 50% of the average.
Seven HOUSE SPARROWS were counted.
The Carter's Lake CBC is located in the ridge & valley province of north GA. The fifteen mile diameter circle covers portions of southern Murray County and northeastern Gordon County.
The Christmas Bird Count is a winter bird survey that stands as the longest running wildlife census. It is conducted by volunteers. The National Audubon Society has promoted the census for decades. The society and others use the data to determine the health of populations.
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