by Will Cook
The 10th Chatham County Fall Migration Count on 9/17/2005 was a hot one, but thanks to the drought and therefore the mudflats on Jordan Lake, we had a great showing of shorebirds and a fantastic count! As good as the shorebirding was, the tyrant-flycatchers stole the show.
We totalled 114 species, well above the average of 100 and just one shy of the record 115 set in 1999. The individual count was a near-normal 3728 birds (3446 average). Observer effort was good, with a near-average number of parties and party-hours. This year's 54.4 birds per party-hour was a bit above the average 51.7. For comparison, we average about 67 birds/party-hour on Chapel Hill Spring counts and 107 on Christmas counts.
Unlike the last two years, there was no tropical storm this year, but we managed to find some goodies without the storm assistance. Of the four species were new to the count, three of them were found by Jeff Pippen alone! Jeff had great luck with his favorite family, the Tyrranidae, and managed to get our first Olive-sided Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, and Willow Flycatcher for the count, all of which were both seen and heard! Jeff posted details of his sightings (and hearings) on Carolinabirds. We had a silent Traill's Flycatcher before (the old name before Willow and Alder were split), but never one that announced its name. Fortunately for us, the flycatchers felt like sounding off this day. Jeff also scooped up two other rare tyrranids - a heard only Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and an Eastern Kingbird, both second count records. Steve Shultz also found a species new to the count, though I bet he wasn't quite as excited about it - his lone Herring Gull was our only gull of the count.
Doug Shadwick and Jacob Socolar, covering the New Hope Creek and Morgan Creek mudflats, found a number of rarish species, including 4 Northern Shovelers, 5 Black-crowned Night-Herons, 50 Pectoral Sandpipers, and 12 Stilt Sandpipers - all 2nd count records. Steve Shultz also saw some of these same shorebirds and more from his boat. Will Cook had two (seen and heard) Acadian Flycatchers, also a second count record, and our fourth Philadelphia Vireo. Another rarity for the count was Bobolink. We've had a grand total of one on all our previous counts, but this year three parties had 5 Bobolinks.
We set an incredible 20 record highs, mostly shorebirds: Northern Bobwhite (24, average 2), Black-crowned Night-Heron (5, avg 0.1), Turkey Vulture (180, avg 94), Semipalmated Plover (6, avg 0.2), Killdeer (147, avg 29), Greater Yellowlegs (9, avg 0.3), Spotted Sandpiper (5, avg 1.3), Semipalmated Sandpiper (16, avg 0.8), Western Sandpiper (4, avg 0.2), Least Sandpiper (32, avg 1.7), Pectoral Sandpiper (50, avg 2.0), Stilt Sandpiper (12, avg 0.2), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (20, avg 10), Red-headed Woodpecker (41, avg 16), Acadian Flycatcher (2, avg 0.1), Northern Mockingbird (29, avg 17), Yellow-throated Warbler (8, avg 1.6), Palm Warbler (16, avg 3.6), Blue Grosbeak (32, avg 13), and Bobolink (5, avg 0.1).
Only two record lows this time: House Finch (5, avg 13), and a big miss, Field Sparrow (0, avg 14).
Warblers were a little below average, with 17 species and 294 individuals (111 non-Pines, average 137), but shorebirds more than made up for them, with 11 species (our record is 12 in 1998) and a record 298 individuals (131 non-Killdeer, average 12). And of course tyrant-flycatchers had an astounding showing, with a record-shattering 9 species (previous best 5) and 48 individuals.
Here's the full count, in current AOU order. I've reduced the totals for 15 species (358 birds) to account for different observers counting the same birds.
24 Canada Goose 28 Wood Duck 1 American Black Duck 56 Mallard 19 Blue-winged Teal 4 Northern Shoveler 1 Wild Turkey 24 Northern Bobwhite 140 Double-crested Cormorant 110 Great Blue Heron 175 Great Egret 5 Black-crowned Night-Heron 2 Green Heron 31 Black Vulture 180 Turkey Vulture 9 Osprey 15 Bald Eagle 6 ad., 9 imm. 5 Cooper's Hawk 8 Red-shouldered Hawk 7 Red-tailed Hawk 3 American Kestrel 6 Semipalmated Plover 147 Killdeer 9 Greater Yellowlegs 15 Lesser Yellowlegs 2 Solitary Sandpiper 5 Spotted Sandpiper 16 Semipalmated Sandpiper 4 Western Sandpiper 32 Least Sandpiper 50 Pectoral Sandpiper 12 Stilt Sandpiper 1 Herring Gull 5 Forster's Tern 18 Rock Pigeon 109 Mourning Dove 5 Yellow-billed Cuckoo 3 Eastern Screech-Owl 1 Great Horned Owl 3 Barred Owl 4 Whip-poor-will 91 Chimney Swift 20 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 16 Belted Kingfisher 41 Red-headed Woodpecker 49 Red-bellied Woodpecker 38 Downy Woodpecker 11 Hairy Woodpecker 14 Northern Flicker 11 Pileated Woodpecker 1 Olive-sided Flycatcher 21 Eastern Wood-Pewee 1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 2 Acadian Flycatcher 1 Alder Flycatcher 1 Willow Flycatcher 18 Eastern Phoebe 2 Great Crested Flycatcher 1 Eastern Kingbird 19 White-eyed Vireo 1 Blue-headed Vireo 5 Yellow-throated Vireo 1 Philadelphia Vireo 24 Red-eyed Vireo 133 Blue Jay 206 American Crow 8 Fish Crow 2 Tree Swallow 178 Carolina Chickadee 199 Tufted Titmouse 34 White-breasted Nuthatch 63 Brown-headed Nuthatch 201 Carolina Wren 2 House Wren 25 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 40 Eastern Bluebird 2 Wood Thrush 9 American Robin 4 Gray Catbird 29 Northern Mockingbird 8 Brown Thrasher 13 European Starling 1 Tennessee Warbler 9 Northern Parula 1 Yellow Warbler 3 Chestnut-sided Warbler 8 Magnolia Warbler 1 Black-throated Blue Warbler 1 Blackburnian Warbler 8 Yellow-throated Warbler 183 Pine Warbler 1 Prairie Warbler 16 Palm Warbler 8 Black-and-white Warbler 18 American Redstart 3 Ovenbird 2 Northern Waterthrush 29 Common Yellowthroat 2 Hooded Warbler 21 Summer Tanager 18 Scarlet Tanager 25 Eastern Towhee 13 Chipping Sparrow 125 Northern Cardinal 2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak 32 Blue Grosbeak 75 Indigo Bunting 5 Bobolink 50 Red-winged Blackbird 150 Common Grackle 1 Baltimore Oriole 5 House Finch 72 American Goldfinch
Butterflies: Jeff Pippen, Will Cook, and Tom Krakauer kept an eye on the lepidopterans and counted a total of 40 species.
Effort: 18 counters in 11 parties. 68.5 party hours (59 foot, 7 car, 2.5 boat), 127 party miles (33 foot, 84 car, 10 boat). Owling 2.5 hours, 0.75 mile.
Weather: temp 73-95F, wind 0-15mph, no precip, sunny, lake level 213.8'.
Will Cook, compiler
Detailed Results (PDF format)
Chapel Hill Bird Club