On a recent Sunday, I participated in the Lower Hudson Christmas Bird Count surveying Liberty State Park for the third year running.
While we did not find a skeleton this year, it was still an atypical day. We did not stumble across any crows, wrens, robins, or blackbirds. So, what did we see?
Well, we did see a dead mouse on a castle. And this…
We may have had to modify our tally after a closer view. They say to expect the unexpected, but who expects to find fake herons on their bird count?! Fake ducks I’m cluing into and fake owls are at least owls, but this is a whole new consideration when playing bird/not bird.
Everything seemed bathed in golden light for at least an hour following sunrise, but we could have used more birds. Some Golden-crowned Kinglets or very Common Goldeneyes would have made our eyes shine. Perhaps a glowing Ruby-crowned Kinglet or want-to-be gleaming Orange-crowned Warbler? We would have even settled for a Rusty Blackbird, or any blackbird really. Or any bird.
Baffled by Buffleheads without any Common or Hooded Mergansers we did one final pass for ducks around Liberte Point. We dipped on Wigeons over the course of the day, but were good with Gadwalls.
Having examined the shoreline and the open water. Failing on Great Cormorant, Long-tailed Ducks, and Loons, we headed inland to The Interior.
Then I tweeted this because it was true:
Every year I go into the interior and spend so much time gazing into every evergreen I find every poky stick, but never any owls. Clearly I need to spend more time looking.
The afternoon lighting was strong and it made for beautiful sightings of what little we did see. As we walked through, the silence seemed very apocalyptic. Other than the drumming from the downy and chittering of the chickadee…
So, for a day of birding with no crows, wrens, robins, or blackbirds, we got a total of 44 species. Record low, replacing 46 after Sandy when apparently things were Just Bad.Total number of individuals across all species: 1226. Roughly 33% lower than the previous low record.
So why were there so few birds? Who knows. A quick guess may be that it was linked to weather patterns. We had some cold weather earlier in the season, but the fifth warmest November in the state this year. We were in short-sleeve weather the week before. Then the temperature dropped, requiring winter gear for this outing, so perhaps the birds that might have lingered this far south had already headed out and birds that might have traveled down here, are hanging our further north? That’s my guess: it’s a bird void.