Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Norwich 2010 Birding Quest Tops its Goal
The annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) punctuated both ends of the Norwich 2010 Birding Quest, which exceeded all expectations by tallying 168 species. On January 1 a year ago, the Hanover-Norwich CBC ushered in a strong start for the Quest and included a ' southerner', Carolina Wren. A year later, last weekend's CBC on December 31 produced a number of noteworthy finds inside the Norwich town lines, although none were new for the year. Belted Kingfisher and Swamp Sparrow were surprises, as was a Barred Owl mantling a freshly-killed American Crow!
As expected once fall migration subsided, November and December brought a major slowdown in additions of species to the Norwich Quest master list, with only 5 newcomers. However, all were welcome finds and included, in chronological order:
164 Black Scoter -- Ompompanoosuc River mouth, 5 November
165 Eurasian Collared-Dove -- Union Village Road, 6 November
166 Tundra Swan -- Ompompanoosuc River mouth, 20 November (a one-day wonder)
167 Red-bellied Woodpecker -- Kendall Station Road, 16 December
168 Common Redpoll -- Route 5 south, 17 December
The Eurasian Collared-Dove was especially intriguing, in that it appeared at the same Union Village Road feeder as did a bird (Vermont's first-ever record) in November of 2009. It is tempting to suspect that this wayward individual, which lingered only 2 days, was the same bird that appeared a year earlier, though its whereabouts and activities in the intervening year would be anyone's guess.
The final Norwich 2010 Quest species, Common Redpoll, is now fairly common throughout the Upper Valley, as it has staged a moderate invasion from its subarctic Canada range. Few other boreal finches are currently about, but we're all hoping Pine Grosbeaks and crossbills will show up soon. Birders should watch for mixed flocks of Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings on ornamental fruit trees.
Our final tally of 168 species easily eclipsed our original goal of 150. Avian highlights within Norwich during 2010 included Northern Shoveler, Long-tailed Duck, Northern Harrier, Short-billed Dowitcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Bicknell's Thrush, Bay-breasted Warbler, Rusty Blackbird, and Orchard Oriole. With Vermont eBird enabling us to systematically track species, a remarkable total of 773 eBird checklists were submitted! This more than admirably fulfilled one of the Quest's goals of encouraging greater use of this invaluable birding and conservation tool.
We were also pleased to offer monthly birding excursions to the public, beginning and ending with the two CBCs. Nearly 200 people participated in these outings, which ranged from leisurely walks around the village, to a bird banding demonstration at the Milton Frye Nature Area, to trips along the Connecticut River. Participants included youth and senior citizens, and all were enthusiastic to learn more about Norwich's birdlife and explore its special places.
Plans for 2011 involve an expansion to all of Windsor County, with a special "challenge" in the form of a friendly rivalry with our birding colleagues in neighboring Washington and Orange Counties. Stay tuned for details on this yearlong effort, which promises to be fun, entertaining, and full of surprises. We think 200 species is entirely within reach in Windsor County, and we're off to a good start already!
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Norwich 2010 Birding Quest. We'll again keep careful track of all species encountered within the town lines during 2011, even as we set our sights on the entire county.
Common Redpoll photo courtesy of Steve Faccio