2013 Chatham County Fall Bird Count

by Will Cook

The Chatham County Fall Migration Count on 9/22/2013 was a fairly normal count, with no mudflats or migrant fallouts. We found 101 species and 3137 individuals, a bit below the average of 105 species and 3700 individuals, but typical for a year with no mudflat habitat. Fortunately the early morning rain passed through before the count began, though the gusty winds that followed kept bird numbers down. The rains made the lake level rise about 2 inches from the day before the count, drowning any incipient mudflats. It was a slow day for warblers, with 92 non-Pine warblers, a third below average and our lowest since 2006. Observer effort was near normal, with 61.45 party-hours just slightly below average 65.4. Birds per party-hour was 51.1, below the average of 57.5, but typical for a non-shorebird year.

The best birds by far were the pair of Barn Owls seen at the Jordan Lake dam by Andrew Thornton just before sunrise. These are not only a first for the count, but the first report in the area I know of for many years. Another great bird was our second Louisiana Waterthrush, found by Nancy Armstrong at Farrington Point. Nothern Rough-winged Swallow (Nancy Armstrong), Tree Swallow (Amalie Tuffin), Cedar Waxwing (Bo Howes and party), and Blackpoll Warbler (Thornton) rounded out the rarities list for the count.

This was not much of a record-breaking year: we set just one record high, 25 Osprey (average 12), and tied one record low, 4 Blue Grosbeak (average 19). There were no big misses.

Highest team counts: The team of Will Cook, Alexander Nickley, and Kencho Gyeltshen, covering the NC 751 area, had the highest species total, with 54, followed by the 51 reported by the team of Nick Flanders, Elisa Enders, Ed Corey, and Eddie Owens. For the tally of individual birds, Will Cook's team came in first with 541 birds, with Andy Upshaw, Rouse Wilson, Joe Zellers second with 529.

Here's the full count:

Effort: 22 counters in 12 parties. 61.45 party hours (54.2 foot, 7.25 car), 79.35 party miles (32.6 foot, 46.75 car). Owling 0.25 hours, 0 mile.

Weather: temp 59-64F, wind NE 0-7 mph, light-heavy rain in am, overcast in pm, lake level 216.15'


Will Cook, compiler

Detailed Results (PDF format)

Chapel Hill Bird Club