by Will Cook
We had a record turnout of counters for the 2001 Chatham County Fall Migration Count on September 15, but strong winds kept the birds lying low for the most part. The 37 counters in 17 parties easily beat the old record of 27 in 13 parties, and the number of party-hours, 132, beats the old record by 50%. Not surprisingly, we counted a record number of birds, 4895, in an average 103 species.
The number of birds per hour confirms the feeling most people had that this was a slow day - 37.1 bph is the lowest by far of the six Chatham counts, well below the average of 49.5. The day following a cold front is reputed to be good for migrants, but the cold front that passed the day before the count apparently blew more birds out than it blew in.
We set a large number of record highs due to the high level of participation. Ones that are more than 50% above previous record highs are Double-crested Cormorant, Black Vulture, Bald Eagle, Broad-winged Hawk, Sanderling, Northern Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Finch, and American Goldfinch.
The highlight for many groups was seeing lots of Bald Eagles. No great rarities or species new to the count were found. Ones we don't get every year included Sanderling, Ring-billed Gull (only our second!), singing Whip-poor-wills, Bay-breasted Warbler, and Yellow-breasted Chat.
Detailed Results (PDF format)
Chapel Hill Bird Club