GREENWICH — Audubon Greenwich’s bird count this past weekend included 130 species including a few surprises.
“Two people saw the common merganser,” said Tom Burke, a longtime birder who coordinated this year’s count. “It’s a neat one. We have had almost every duck you could expect, and that was the one that was missing, so it was good to see .. and it’s the first time we ever recorded the boat-tailed grackle … It’s a southern marsh bird that’s been colonizing the coast in Connecticut and New York recently.”
Audubon sent out about 50 people to 17 different territories within Greenwich, Stamford and Westchester County, N.Y., for the 44th annual Summer Bird Count.
Within 24 hours, bird-watchers logged everything they saw.
Burke is a retired accountant who set up the Audubon Greenwich biannual Bird Count in 1974 with fellow birder Gary Palmer.
The results of Saturday’s count is being collated and will be compared with observations from previous years.
We are noticing “the arrival of some species like the red-bellied woodpecker from the south,” Ted Gilman, the Audubon’s education specialist and senior naturalist said. “It’s a striking bird, and when I first got here in the ‘70s, it was not around at all or just starting to show up, and now it’s pretty much filled in all across the state beyond.”
Gilman said that the information gathered is submitted to the Connecticut Ornithological Association for statewide and regional data collection. Once the data is complete, the Ornithological Association will release it in a publication.
But although birders have been spotting new species and Burke said the total number found, about 130, is exactly on par with the average number recorded in past years — there are also some species in decline.
The “field habitat has kind of disappeared over the years,” Burke said, “so we have lost some of the field-breeding species. Every bird has its own trend, so it’s hard to say. It’s been more discouraging recently because of the general overall decline of birds.”
“I was not seeing the high numbers of newly-fledged common species such as grackles, starlings and robins that I often see at this time,” Ehlinger said. “The purple martins at Greenwich Point also seemed to be late in rearing their families.
“But the ospreys and American oystercatchers continue to be doing well,” she said, “and that is a very encouraging sign” to the health of the bird population.
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