On December 22, 2007 I participated in the Southern Albany County CBC BY MY SELF (thanks Corey). It had originally been scheduled on December 16, but a nasty nor’easter that dropped 8″ of snow and some ice put the kibosh on that.
This count I have participated on now for several years and the way the circle is set up, my territory is mostly in Greene County, with only a small sliver of Albany County.
Since my in-laws had backed out on me after agreeing to watch my kids, I had the munchkins with me. It wasn’t that bad. Lillian, who will be 2 shortly and has more problems that I can count, slept. Sophia age 6, was wide awake with the prospect of spotting an owl.
We arrived on territory at about 6:30 am and began hitting the back roads in search of owls. Driving slowly along with my high beams on, I saw a medium sized bird flush from an evergreen tree, fly across the road and land in a tree on the other side. Figuring I had an Eastern Screech or Barred Owl, I alerted my daughter and we crept up to the bird. The light was really dim, but using my binoculars, I was able to see a medium sized plump bird, overall gray with some barring. Perfect for a Barred Owl, except for that triangular shaped head. What? Aw crap, it’s just a Ruffed Grouse. A few moments later my daughter spotted another Grouse running in the underbrush next to the car, not a bad way to start the day.
From there I made my way down to the Coxsackie Reservoir and found it frozen. Hell everything was frozen and with 8-10″ of snow on the ground, walking with a 2 year old, who can’t walk was out of the question. It would have to be done by car.
After dropping my eldest daughter off at my in-laws (who caved part way) the rest of us proceeded to cover the rest of the territory. Unlike previous years, numbers of common birds were well down, people who had reliable feeding stations, either didn’t have them up or no birds at them. It was a tough haul, despite the fact I found 35 species, a pretty good number for late December.
The only special bird I had on the count was a very late American Kestrel, it would be the only one on the count.
After getting gas in Coxsackie, I decided to stop at the Coxsackie Creek Grasslands Preserve, to change the baby, feed her, hold her and essentially get her out of the car seat (and take a bit of a nap). This area is outside of the count area, so nothing would count, it was just a quiet and safe spot.
As we sat there eating and playing, I saw a medium sized bird fly over the car and land in the top of a near-by tree. Dropping the baby (who immediately screamed) I was able to get my sights on an adult Northern Shrike. After years and years of searching the Coxsackie Grasslands in winter for this species I was able to finally get one. Too bad it counted for nothing.
Lillian however did not forgive me and proceeded to cry. Couple that with a panicky call from my wife who was afraid she wasn’t going to get to get back in time from her mail run to meet the truck at her station and would have to take the mail to Albany herself. Normally this wouldn’t have been an issue, but the car she took had a flat tire and was currently using a donut for the day until we could get it to her parents that night to get the new tires and rims put on. I returned to Albany in case we had to do some vehicle swapping and Lillian was much happier at home. I did however cover all of my territory at least once, by the time I quit around 1pm.
Only one more CBC for me to go, the Troy CBC which will be held on December 29. It’s the first time I’ve done this count, so it should be interesting.
Southern Albany County CBC, section C1 Results
Ruffed Grouse 2, American Crow 170, Snow Bunting 3, Dark-eyed Junco 145, Northern Cardinal 7, Blue Jay 51, White-throated Sparrow 33, Cedar Waxwing 27, American Robin 225, Common Raven 1, Mallard 20, Mourning Dove 52, European Starling 560, Tufted Titmouse 7, Carolina Wren 1, American Tree Sparrow 10, Red-tailed Hawk 7, Red-bellied Woodpecker 2, Song Sparrow 1, House Sparrow 3, Black-capped Chickadee 12, Downy Woodpecker 3, White-breasted Nuthatch 4, American Goldfinch 3, Brown Creeper 1, Purple Finch 3, Pileated Woodpecker 1, House Finch 8, Cooper’s Hawk 1, American Kestrel 1, Eastern Bluebird 3, Rock Pigeon 207, Northern Flicker 1, Northern Mockingbird 1, Northern Harrier 1.