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Southern Ocean Birding Group

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2017 Tuckerton Christmas Bird Count Results
On Dec. 16, 2017, sixteen members of the Southern Ocean Bird Group participated in the 117th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, including two new participants (yay!). Our group covers the Tuckerton CBC, which originated with a single participant in 1967. The Tuckerton CBC occurred continuously from 1967 through 1986, when it was discontinued. The count ran again in 2004 and 2005, but was halted once again.  Shortly after SOBG was organized in 2008, our group revived the Tuckerton count again in 2010, and has participated and organized the count since then, led by count compiler Linda Gangi.

Weather for the 2017 Tuckerton CBC was quite pleasant overall. The previous day brought ~2 inches of snow, so due to concerns about driving safety, the count began an hour later than usual. The temperature eventually rose into the 50's, but overall counts were hampered by the late start and having all fresh water ponds nearly completely frozen. The group ended with a total of 71 species, which is four species over the average since the count was re-organized in 2010. The most notable sighting was a rare Allen's Hummingbird that has been remaining at a local feeder. In addition to the hummingbird, we added five other new species to the list of birds seen on this count since 2010: White-winged Scoter, Ruddy Turnstone, Fish Crow, Wilson's Snipe, and Pine Warbler. This was the fifth straight year that Great Egret was seen on this CBC, and mirroring its spread northward in recent years, Black Vulture was seen for the sixth straight year despite not being seen from 1967-2007.
                                                                  Adult Bald Eagles on 2016 Tuckerton CBC. Photo by Nancy Gallagher.
A summary of the count results since 2010 (when SOBG started sponsoring the current CBC territory) can be found here.  A complete tally of all Tuckerton CBC results going back to 1967 can be found in this Excel file.

Its quite interesting to see the differences in the count results since 1967.  The change in species such as Piping Plover, Long-tailed Duck, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Snow Bunting, and Horned Grebe can largely be accounted for by the loss of CBC territory at Holgate that contained ocean views and beach habitat.  For other species such as Tundra Swan, Canvasback, Ruddy Duck, Eastern Meadowlark, Northern Harrier, and Rough-legged Hawk the reasons for the difference is less clear.  Other changes undoubtedly are due to real changes in the populations. Look especially at Black Vulture, Northern Bobwhite, Ruffed Grouse, both loons, Little Blue Heron, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Bald Eagle, Horned Lark, Boat-tailed Grackle, and Evening Grosbeak. The results from this one CBC circle demonstrate the value of the CBC for monitoring bird populations, especially when combined with data from other circles across the country. Think about joining us next year.

We hope to see you at the 2018 Tuckerton CBC!