Sullivan County Christmas Bird Count (Monticello)

On 12/28/16, Karen Miller and I conducted the Christmas Bird Count for my sector of the Monticello Count Area. My sector covers Rubin Road to the Rio/Mongaup Reservoirs west of Monticello. This is my 16th year participating in the Christmas Bird Count. We had a good day. The day started out in the high twenties and there were intermittent sleet and snow squalls throughout the morning with partial clearing in the afternoon. All standing water was frozen and we had some open water at both the reservoirs where it was rapidly flowing. We had some really good birds and especially good totals. Historically, the Rio Reservoir had been really good for Black Ducks. Once many years ago, we had 300 Black Ducks for the count there. Since then, there have been fewer, totals only in the double digits. Yesterday, we had 142 BLACK DUCKS, the highest count in at least ten years! Another great total was for BALD EAGLES! Karen and I started the morning at dawn on Plank Road. As has been the case in several recent years, Steve Davis joined us, enjoying the eagle count. We had our second highest count of Bald Eagles coming off the roost at dawn for all the years I’ve done it. We had 26 Bald Eagles come off between 6:45 and 8:00 am. Twelve adults and 14 immature eagles were seen. I had visions of a new count high, but interestingly, we never had any other Bald Eagles in our sector the entire day. Additional eagles seen in the afternoon at the reservoir were not counted, considered to be repeats from the morning. Our next high count was for WILD TURKEY. My area is heavily forested and even though there are high numbers of turkeys throughout the sector, they are often difficult to connect with on count day. This time however, we had three groups totaling 46 Turkeys which was a count day high for the sector. One other sighting was of particular interest. As we came to the intersection of Hartwood Road and Rt. 42, a Red-tailed Hawk dove from high to a mostly open field on the right. There is a tree in this area, and apparently, there was a BARRED OWL in the tree. The Hawk chased the owl out of the field and it flew across the road ahead of us, followed by the hawk who then veered off and flew into the woods. We tried to find the Barred Owl, but the woods it flew into were quite dense. We did however catch up with the hawk again. Pretty exciting! We ended our day with a respectable 28 species and 628 individuals, not bad for my sector.

Not always easy to connect with, Turkeys were especially cooperative this year.

Not always easy to connect with, Turkeys were especially cooperative this year.

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