Contests & Special Counts
A Stormy “Feathered
Six intrepid (i.e. crazy) teams of birders braved the elements during this remarkably snowy "Feathered Frenzy" Feb 14 to 16. Twenty to 24 inches of snow covered the ground, and light snow continued to fall during most of the weekend. Finding birds at the Bashakill was difficult to impossible, as the parking lots were not plowed, and the view from a car was blocked by high piles of snow, but even if one could see, there was almost no open water anyway.
So it was up to the birding teams to abandon the Bashakill and search for birds in other county locations, although deep snow everywhere covered their usual sources of food on the ground. Small open water patches on the Neversink River, the upper Rondout Reservoir and some other scattered areas attracted a few kinds of waterfowl. A number of well-stocked seed and suet feeders rewarded observant birders as well as over 20 kinds of birds. Abundant fruits remaining on trees and shrubs proved to be an outstanding food source for small flocks of birds. Fruit-laden apple and crabapple trees, sumac and winter berries of several kinds visible from roadsides provided food for many hungry birds (and deer).
When we tallied the results from all teams, we had a total of 57 different species over the weekend. (Our record high totals for this mid-February event were 65 species in 2009 and 64 in both 2002 and 2012.)
John Haas and Arlene Borko produced a list of 44 species on Saturday and did it all over again on Sunday, coming up with the biggest list of 47 species. Their best birds were a Snow Goose in Bethel and single Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, Kestrel (along Gabel Rd) and Rough-legged Hawk (Rt 17B Fosterdale).
Renee Davis and Marge Gorton found 43 kinds on Sunday, including the only Flicker and Pileated Woodpecker. Both the Davis and Haas teams found the only Snow Buntings in the Beechwoods and Cowbirds near feeders on Dr. Duggan Rd.
The Freer/Collier/McKeon team found 39 species including the only Kingfisher (in Woodbourne). Ring-billed Gulls were seen only by the Haas and Freer teams at the mall in Monticello. The same two teams found the only Sapsuckers: one along Wolf Brook Rd and one in Big Valley Park in Wurtsboro; and a Cooper's Hawk watching Arlene's feeders, with another watching her sister's feeders in Monticello.
Scott Baldinger, Deb Powell and Lee Hunter found 35 species as they walked 2.4 miles through the snow (the only birding on foot), plus many miles by car. They found the only Swamp Sparrow of the weekend at Scott's feeder on South Road.
Ruth McKeon and Ruth Shursky reported 33 species, including a Red-winged Blackbird at the Shursky feeder. Another was seen at Fisk Ave. in Monticello by the Haas team.
Kate and Charlie Hyden found18 species on a feeder count in their yard, including the only Sharp-shinned Hawk of the event. They also reported a Barred Owl, which is pretty uncommon on feeder counts.
Remarkable numbers of Robins were seen by everyone who participated in this "Feathered Frenzy." The Haas/Borko team reported about 150 Robins on Saturday! Other fruit-eating birds found included Purple Finches, Starlings, Cedar Waxwings, and Bluebirds. Many other species eat fruit as a part of their diet when other foods are not avail-able.
[Warblings Ed. Note: Many thanks to Valerie for her enthusiastic dedication in organizing the “Feathered Frenzy” for 18 years while continuing her other considerable volunteer work with SCAS and NYSOA] PJ