Thirty-two counters participated in the sixth annual Carter's Lake Christmas Bird Count on January 5th, 2013. The weather was wonderful. Everyone did an excellent job covering
their areas and got out there to find some great birds. We ended the day with 108 different species reported! Ten teams drove and walked a combined 494 miles and counted 15,364 individual birds.
Waterfowl diversity and numbers were both above average this year. Thirteen species of
geese and ducks were reported on the count.
Thirty-six of the species observed had new high counts established this year. Only two
species had low counts.
We did not lose any of our annual species for the count. There are 77 in all, and they are
marked with an asterisk(*) below. The only ones that were not observed and might be
considered missed would be Northern Bobwhite and Brown-headed Cowbird.
Two additional species were observed during count-week: Northern Pintail and Great
Teams were as follows:
Team 1 - Carter's Lake Section - Jim Flynn, Bill Lotz, Joel McNeal, Chuck Saleeby
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 - Ken Blankenship, Rebecca Byrd
Team 5 - Salacoa Section - Ann Stewart, Stephen Stewart, Richard White
Team 6 - Dews Pond Section - Bob Babcock, Chris Lambrecht
Team 7 - Ranger Section - Patrick Brisse, Hugh Garrett, Terry Moore
Team 8 - Fox Bridge Marsh Section - Patty McLean, Max Medley, George Parsley
Team 9 - New Echota Section - Johnnie Greene, Derrick Ingle, Ruth Marley,
John McFarland, Karen McFarland, Joshua Spence
Team 10 - Charles Beard, Duncan Beard, Richard Maddox Jr., Richard Maddox Sr.
Possibly the bird of the day was a ROSS'S GOOSE found by Team 9. This is only the third CBC record for the state!
CANADA GOOSE numbers were below average with 271 reported.*
WOOD DUCK numbers have been low for four consecutive years, but were finally observed in decent numbers, 60 in all. Team 10 observed 46 of these. This does constitute a new high-count for the count. *
GADWALL, one of our annual ducks on the count, barely set a new high with a total of 86 individuals. *
One AMERICAN WIGEON was observed by Team 2. Surprisingly, this is only the second time that this species has been observed.
Team 9 observed four AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS at a swamp. This is only the third time that this species has been recorded for the count, and it is also the most we've observed.
116 MALLARDS sets a new high count for this species.*
NORTHERN SHOVELERS were slightly below average at 6 individuals reported.
Team 9 found 10 GREEN-WINGED TEAL at a swamp.
Team 2 observed three REDHEADS. This is the second time it has been observed for this count.
RING-NECKED DUCK numbers were well below average at 27.*
Team 1 observed a single LESSER SCAUP. This is only the second time this species has shown up on count day.
The 35 HOODED MERGANSERS reported, tied the high-count for the circle .*
After enjoying three consecutive years of good numbers of WILD TURKEY, this year's poor showing of three was an unpleasant surprise.*
Two COMMON LOONS were observed at Carter's Lake by Team 1.
This year's 32 PIED-BILLED GREBES was six more than last year's count, setting a new high count for this common species. Team 1 reported 19 of these.*
This year is the third time that HORNED GREBE has been observed on count-day. Team 1 observed a single bird at Carters Lake.
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were not present at their regular hang-out, the reregulation pool, but Team 5 observed a single bird at the DeFoor Walters Lake. This was a low-count for this species. *
GREAT BLUE HERONS were observed in higher numbers this year. A total of 34 set a new record high. *
Even though the 67 reported BLACK VULTURES was a strong representation of this species, it was the second lowest showing since the count's inception. *
TURKEY VULTURES were found in slightly below average numbers this year. A total of 221 was reported.*
Team 1 observed an OSPREY at Carter's Lake. This is the first record for the count, and one of the few winter records for the Ridge and Valley.
Team 1 observed the two resident BALD EAGLES at Carter's Lake.
This was a great year for NORTHERN HARRIERS. Nine were counted(high count), five of which were observed coming in to roost in the evening on Fite Bend Rd. Team 4.*
Only one SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was counted this time. Team 6.*
Six COOPER'S HAWKS were reported this year.*
Both RED-SHOULDERED HAWK(40) & RED-TAILED HAWK(56) set new high count numbers this year.*
Team 8 found two VIRGINIA RAILS and three SORAS at the Fox Bridge marsh.
Three AMERICAN COOTS were observed at a swamp by Team 9. This common species does not have a strong wintering presence in this circle.
At least 300 SANDHILL CRANES were observed moving throughout the circle.*
Again, KILLDEER was observed in high numbers this year. 410 individuals were reported. Almost 50% of these were observed on the Fite Bend route by Team 4.*
Team 4 found five LEAST SANDPIPERS at Fite Bend Rd. This is the third time this species has been reported on the count.
Only three WILSON'S SNIPE were counted this year, all reported by Team 4.
A combined count of 22 AMERICAN WOODCOCKS were reported from six sections. This sets a new record high. Team 3 reported nine of these displaying in the Coosawattee WMA at dawn.
Team 1 observed seven BONAPARTE'S GULL at Carter's Lake. This is the largest count-day showing for this species thus far.
19 RING-BILLED GULLS were also reported by Team 1, establishing a new high count for our only annual gull.*
The 202 ROCK PIGEONS were above average numbers for this count. Most were observed at the Carter's reregulation dam and the Fite Bend silos.
The 18 EURASIAN COLLARED DOVES observed by Team 4 was an above-average count for this species.
This is the second year that MOURNING DOVES have been reported in lower numbers than expected. Still, 222 is a decent count for the circle's only native dove.
EASTERN SCREECH OWLS were found in average numbers. Five in all. *
The seven GREAT HORNED OWLS reported, were above average in number. Team 3 found five of these at dawn.
Three BARRED OWLS were reported this year.
15 BELTED KINGFISHERS were observed.*
Woodpecker numbers were the overall highest since the count's inception. In fact, we established new highs for six of our seven annual woodpeckers. 441 individuals were counted.
The 27 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were reported from six teams. Team 2 reported nine of these. High count.*
This year's high count of 160 RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS was 30% more than the previous record.*
38 YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS easily established a new high for the count.*
The DOWNY WOODPECKER also experienced its highest turn-out. 75 in all, overcoming the previous record of 55.*
Ten HAIRY WOODPECKERS were counted this year. This is only the third time that this species has reached double-digits.*
NORTHERN FLICKERS beat the previous high of 76 with this year's 95. *
PILEATED WOODPECKERS set a new high count at 36, beating the previous record by eleven individuals.*
26 AMERICAN KESTRELS were counted this time. Only one less than the circle's record high.*
Team 5 observed one MERLIN hunting at a sod farm. This is the second record for the count.
The 67 EASTERN PHOEBES fell only two below the circle's high count.*
Two 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 one was recorded by Team 4 near Fagala Rd.*
Team 6 found a BLUE-HEADED VIREO. This is the count's second record.
This year's high number of 445 BLUE JAYS was quite a bit more than the previous record of 370. Team 6 observed 91 individuals. *
AMERICAN CROWS, as usual, were reported in good numbers. 817 birds is above average, most being reported from a landfill by Team 5. *
Team 5 also observed the majority of the FISH CROWS, helping set a high count for that species, 14 in all.
Team 4 counted at least 24 HORNED LARKS at the Fite Bend fields. Surprisingly, this is only the second record for the circle.
Both CAROLINA CHICKADEE(201) & TUFTED TITMOUSE(178) were reported in above average numbers this year.*
Team 1 found our only RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES(2) of the day.
Both the WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH(34) & the BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH(74) were observed in above average numbers.*
Seven BROWN CREEPERS were recorded this year. *
Four HOUSE WRENS were reported.
14 WINTER WRENS were counted. This is the most that have ever been reported on this count. *
The 192 CAROLINA WRENS set a new high count record.*
Team 2 relocated a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER that they found while scouting earlier in the week. This is the second count record and approximately 1.25 miles(as the gnatcatcher flies) from where the initial bird was observed three winters ago. There are few winter records of this species from Georgia's Ridge and Valley.
Exactly 100 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS were reported this year. This is well above the average.*
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS were reported in slightly lower than average numbers, 86 in all.*
This count has produced high numbers of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS and this year was no different. There were 305 individuals reported this time, but no where close to beating the record, 417!*
HERMIT THRUSHES were found in higher numbers than usual. The 63 reported is a new record high.*
AMERICAN ROBINS had a very strong presence on the count this time. They were reported from every team for a total of 1723, a new high-count. Team 6 reported 650 from their route.*
This year's 138 NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS breaks the previous high count by ten individuals.*
37 BROWN THRASHERS were reported, which is also a new record high.*
2078 EUROPEAN STARLINGS were reported.*
Team 4 observed the majority of the day's AMERICAN PIPITS on Fite Bend Rd. The count's total of 80 was enough to establish a new high count for the circle.*
CEDAR WAXWINGS came in with a total of 598.*
Team 4 was able to document not one, but two LAPLAND LONGSPURS at the Fite Bend fields. This is the count's second record.
Nine PALM WARBLERS, all of which were reported by Team 4.
The 21 PINE WARBLERS reported was average.*
The YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER total this year was just slightly above average, 149 in all.*
Twelve species of Emberizidae were observed on the count. 2640 individuals were counted, the highest thus far for the Carter's Lake CBC.
EASTERN TOWHEES were reported in high numbers, 217 in all. This is 99 individuals more than the previous high count.*
There were 361 CHIPPING SPARROWS reported on count day, which strangely is slightly below the average for this circle.*
FIELD SPARROWS were found in high numbers this year, 170 in all, giving this species a new high-count.*
Only seven VESPER SPARROWS were tallied for the count. This is the third time in the last six years that this species has not reached double-digits. Team 6 observed six of these.*
The SAVANNAH SPARROW number was well above the average at 274 individuals.Team 6 reported 111 from their route.*
Three LECONTE'S SPARROWS were observed at a location where one was known to be wintering.Three was a welcomed surprise! This species was recorded for count-week four years ago, so this is its first count-day appearance. Only a handful of Ridge and Valley records exist.
A total of 27 FOX SPARROWS were found on this years count. This is the third highest number we've recorded in the circle, the highest being 36 during the initial count. As usual, Team 3 found the bulk of these in the Coosawattee WMA.*
SONG SPARROW (524) crushed the previous high number of 367. *
SWAMP SPARROW (241) fared very well, beating the previous record by 125 individual birds. *
This year's 508 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS overshadowed the previous high-count by 171 individuals!*
This count has consistently produced high numbers of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, but this is the first year that this species has reached triple digits! A total of 101 individuals were reported from six teams. The majority were found by Team 4(48) and Team 2(38). This further establishes the circle as a stronghold for this winter visitor in Georgia's Ridge and Valley.*
DARK-EYED JUNCO numbers were above average at 154.*
A total of 433 NORTHERN CARDINALS were counted this year. This also established a new high count for the circle. *
Only 432 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were observed, well below the average. *
EASTERN MEADOWLARK set a new high record with 350 reported this year.*
Team 8 observed a large flock of RUSTY BLACKBIRDS at the Fox Bridge Marsh. This is a known roosting site for this species and has proven to be the location that we most often find them. This year's 366 has totally obliterated the previous record for the circle.
Team 2 added 5 BREWER'S BLACKBIRDS to the tally. This is the third time this species has been recorded on this CBC.
After last year's estimated flock of 100,000 COMMON GRACKLES, we were eager to see what this year had in store. Surprisingly, the large flocks that are known to move throughout the circle were not observed by any of the survey teams. The total count for this species came in at a dismal 182! This, by far, stands as the most disappointing results for the count. The average for this circle is 30,563!
It was a good day for PURPLE FINCHES, 35 in all.
Barely setting a new high-count was the 43 HOUSE FINCHES reported. *
13 PINE SISKINS were reported. This is the third time that this species has been observed on the count.
AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES established a new high count at 250.*
24 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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