Twenty-four birders participated in the fifth annual Carter's Lake Christmas Bird Count on December 29th, 2011. The weather was wonderful. Everyone did an excellent job covering
their areas and got out there to find some great species. We ended the day with 97 total reported! Nine teams drove and walked 502.5 miles to count 113,204 individual birds.
This number was greatly enhanced by an enormous flock of grackles.
Teams were as follows:
Team 1 - Carter's Lake Section - Max Medley, George Parsley, Georgann Schmalz, Jim
Team 2 - Pine Chapel Section - Jeff Sewell, Dan Vickers
Team 3 - Coosawattee WMA Section- Allan Muise, Charlie Muise, Tracey Muise
Team 4 - Fite Bend Section - Ann Stewart, Stephen Stewart, Richard White
Team 5 - Salacoa Section - Katherine Andregg, Ruth Marley, Sandy Pangle
Team 6 - Dews Pond Section - Bob Babcock, Chris Lambrecht
Team 7 - Ranger Section - James Dietrich, Jennifer Dietrich, Joshua Dietrich, Phil Riner
Team 8 - Fox Bridge Marsh Section - Mark Goins, Joshua Spence
Team 9 - Stationary Reservoir Watch - Johnny Parks
Below are the species accounts:
Two SNOW GEESE were observed. Team 2 and Team 8 both had white adults. This is the third time that this species has been observed on the count.
CANADA GOOSE numbers were slightly above average with 299 reported.
WOOD DUCK numbers have been low for three consecutive years, and this year was no different. Only six individuals counted.
GADWALL numbers were well above average at 80 individuals, and only four shy of a high count.
109 MALLARDS sets a new high count for this species.
A BLUE-WINGED TEAL was observed during count-week.
Team 8 observed 14 NORTHERN SHOVELERS.
NORTHERN PINTAIL made its second count-day appearance with two drakes from a Holly Creek wetland, reported by Team 8.
A GREEN-WINGED TEAL was observed during count-week.
RING-NECKED DUCK numbers were well above average at 184. Most(175) were observed by Team 2 at a roadside pond.
Team 9 observed a single male GREATER SCAUP at the Carter's Reservoir. This is only the second time this species has shown up on the count.
Five BUFFLEHEADS were observed on the Carter's reregulation pool in the evening hours.
HOODED MERGANSERS were just slightly below the average at 21 individuals.
This is the fourth year that RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS have made an appearance on the count. Both a drake and a hen were observed at the Carte'rs reregulation pool by Team 1.
The 74 WILD TURKEYS counted this year is the new high count for the circle.
Four COMMON LOONS were observed on the Carter's reregulation pool by Team 1.
This year's 26 PIED-BILLED GREBES more than doubled the previous high count record of ten.
This year is only the second time that HORNED GREBE was observed on count-day. Team 1 and Team 9 tallied 29 individuals at Carters Lake. Not only a high-count for the circle, but a descent number for any north GA site.
Three DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were observed on the Carters reregulation pool.
GREAT BLUE HERONS were observed in below average numbers, tying the low count at 18 individuals.
Vulture numbers were the lowest since the count's inception, but still a strong presence throughout the circle. BLACK VULTURE(64) & TURKEY VULTURE(176)
One adult BALD EAGLE was observed at the Carters Lake nest-site, during count-week. This was the first year that this species was not observed on the actual day of the count.
Four NORTHERN HARRIERS were counted.
An average number of two SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS were reported.
Only four COOPER'S HAWKS were reported this year.
The 20 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS observed was about average for this circle.
RED-TAILED HAWKS were reported in slightly higher average numbers at 49 individuals, but still did not beat the high count of 54 in 2009.
22 AMERICAN KESTRELS were counted this year.
Team 8 found average numbers of rails at the Fox Bridge Marsh. Two VIRGINIA RAILS and two SORAS.
Four AMERICAN COOTS were counted this year. This is only the second time that this species has been observed on the count. Ironically, this also represents the high count!
At least 102 SANDHILL CRANES were observed in various portions of the circle.
After a low total of 82 KILLDEER during last year's count, this species was observed in extremely high numbers this year. 730 individuals were reported, dwarfing the previous high count of 314. Most of these were observed at the Fite Bend fields by Team 4.
Only two WILSON'S SNIPE were counted this year, both reported by Team 5.
A hardy number of eight AMERICAN WOODCOCKS were reported from three sections. Team 8 reported six birds displaying in the Coosawattee WMA at dawn.
Team 1 observed six BONAPARTE'S GULL at the Carter's reregulation pool. This is the largest count-day showing for this species thus far.
4 RING-BILLED GULLS were also reported by Team 1.
The 336 ROCK PIGEONS fell only seven shy of breaking last year's high count. Most were observed at the Carter's reregulation dam and the Fite Bend silos.
The 28 EURASIAN COLLARED DOVES observed by Team 4 set a new high count for the circle.
MOURNING DOVES have been reported in good numbers for the last four years. Even though this year is the lowest showing for this species, the count still yielded a strong 203 individuals.
Team 4 observed a BARN OWL in the early morning on count-day. This is the third time this species has been observed on count-day. One was also observed during the 109th count-week. Not bad!
This year's single EASTERN SCREECH OWL represents the lowest showing for this species since the count began. Johnny Parks found it at Carter's Lake.
An average number of three GREAT HORNED OWLS were reported. Two from Team 7 and one from Team 1.
Team 8 was the only team to find BARRED OWLS. Only two individuals.
12 BELTED KINGFISHERS were observed this year, .
The three RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS reported, falls below the average for the circle. All were observed by Team 2.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were reported in slightly above average numbers. There were 91 counted this year.
Also, above average were the 26 YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS.
The DOWNY WOODPECKER experienced its highest turn-out for the count. 55 in all, overcoming the previous record of 49.
Eleven HAIRY WOODPECKERS were counted this year. This is only the second time that this species has reached double-digits.
NORTHERN FLICKERS were found in descent numbers. The 60 observed is above the annual average.
PILEATED WOODPECKERS set a new high count at 25, beating the previous record by seven individuals.
The 30 EASTERN PHOEBES that were reported, fell well below the average for this species.
Three LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES were observed in the circle this year. One bird was found by Team 2 near Moss Rd, which is a known north GA stronghold for this species. Another two, were found by Team 6.
The 267 BLUE JAYS counted fell well above the average for this species.
AMERICAN CROWS were also observed in high numbers. The 814 was above average, most being reported by Team 4 from the large murders that often gather at the Fite Bend fields.
Both CAROLINA CHICKADEE(240) & TUFTED TITMOUSE(180) set new high count numbers this year.
Also, both the WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH(44) & the BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH(105) established new high counts.
Following their example, the eleven BROWN CREEPERS set a new high count record for the circle.
The 145 CAROLINA WRENS were slightly above average.
Three HOUSE WRENS were reported this year.
The nine WINTER WRENS reported tied the circle's low count. That being said, the high count for this species is 13. A slim margin of four birds. Very consistant, to say the least.
A single SEDGE WREN was located at the Fox Bridge Marsh by Team 8. This is only the second count-day record.
Kinglet numbers were slightly above average. GOLDEN-CROWNEDS (75) & RUBY-CROWNEDS (98).
This count has produced some high numbers of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS and this year was no different. There were 316 individuals reported this time, but no where close to beating last year's 417!
Slightly above the average, HERMIT THRUSHES came in with 25 reported.
350 AMERICAN ROBINS were counted this year.
This year's 128 NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS breaks the previous high count record of 119.
22 BROWN THRASHERS were reported, which is slightly above average.
2490 EUROPEAN STARLINGS were reported.
Only seven AMERICAN PIPITS were reported this year. This is well below the count's annual average. These were found by Team 5.
CEDAR WAXWINGS came in at 234.
The YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER total this year was just slightly below average, but we still had 115 in all.
The 27 PINE WARBLERS reported were above the count-average and only four individuals away from tying the high.
Twenty PALM WARBLERS were reported, which is the highest total for the count thus far. Twelve of these were reported by Team 4.
EASTERN TOWHEES were found in descent numbers, 109 in all.
The 413 CHIPPING SPARROWS reported, beat the previous high count by only six birds.
FIELD SPARROWS were also found in high numbers this year, 158 in all, and only nine birds from a new high count record.
Team 3 found the only VESPER SPARROWS for the count. They observed three individuals. This is the second time in the last five years that this species did not reach double-digits.
The SAVANNAH SPARROW number was lower than the average but we still managed to tally 103 total.
A total of 29 FOX SPARROWS were found on this years count. This is the second highest number we've observed in the circle, the highest being 36 during the initial count. Team 3 found the bulk of them this year in the Coosawattee WMA.
Both SONG SPARROW (331) & SWAMP SPARROW (92) registered well above the average.
The 220 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS reported were below the average, but still a good representation of that species.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were in high numbers again this season. The 45 reported did not match last year's 56, but further established the circle as a stronghold for this winter visitor. Most(26) being reported by Team 2.
DARK-EYED JUNCO numbers were below average at 74.
A total of 379 NORTHERN CARDINALS were counted this year. This not only established a new high count for the circle, but crushed the previous record of 271 by 108 individual birds!
2122 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS is a new high count for this species.
Well below average were the 126 EASTERN MEADOWLARKS reported this year.
18 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were found by Team 8 at the Fox Bridge Marsh, which has proven to be the location that we most often find them.
Team 6 added 3 BREWER'S BLACKBIRDS to the tally. This is only the second time this species has been recorded on this CBC.
An estimated flock of 100,000 COMMON GRACKLES were observed leaving the roost on the morning of the count by Team 2. At dusk, Team 4 observed an estimated flock of 100,000 coming in to roost along the rivers at Fite Bend. Due to the close proximity of the two locations, the probability of these two flocks being the same can't be ignored. Therefore, the decision was made to report a total of 100,000 individuals for this year's count. Obviously, this is a high count for the circle!
35 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS were observed.
Only eight HOUSE FINCHES were found on this count.
AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES established a new high count at 211, only beating the previous record by nine individuals.
Twenty-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 wid bird populations.
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