Record Numbers Seen In Mid-Cape Bird Count
By: Laura M. Reckford
Neither frigid temperatures nor the first in what would be a series of winter storms stopped intrepid birders earlier this winter from doing an annual count of feathered friends in the Mid-Cape.
In what Jeremiah Trimble, curatorial associate in ornithology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, called “a very successful Mid-Cape Cod Christmas Bird Count,” 16 birders “persevered and tallied an amazing 131 species.” That is the second highest count ever for number of species for the Mid-Cape count, Mr. Trimble said. It is the highest count this year among all the regions in Massachusetts that participate in the count. Mr. Trimble’s father, Peter Trimble of Centerville, was the organizer of the Mid-Cape count.
The birders counted a total of 25,150 birds over the 24 hours of the count, which is actually fewer birds than usual. Last year, birders counted 43,008, but that included a roost of an estimated 24,000 robins. This year, Mr. Trimble said, that roost was not seen. In fact, he said, there were few “frugivores,” birds that eat fruit, seen on the count.
The Mid-Cape count covers all of the towns of Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis and parts of Sandwich.
From the early hours of the morning until late at night, birders go to places like Sandy Neck Beach, Hyannis Harbor, Seagull Beach, Wequaquet Lake, West Dennis Beach, and Corporation Beach, in search of birds to count.
The original date of the count on December 27 was postponed due to a snow storm, but it took place December 28, despite extremely windy conditions. Some of the highlights from the count that are rarely seen on Cape Cod were 16 dovekie, a barred owl, a female king eider, and a Bohemian waxwing. Another highlight because the species is not usually seen this time of year were two blue-winged teal.
Also, Mr. Trimble said, a few observers noted what appeared to be a western subspecies of fox sparrow, from what is called the sooty fox sparrow group. This is the 111th year of the National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count, a coast-to-coast census that takes place every December. The National Audubon Society organizes the count as a way to measure the overall health of the environment. Birds are the fi rst group of animals to be affected by various environmental threats, such as habitat destruction and pollution.
In 2009, the Audubon Society used 40 years of Christmas Bird Count data to analyze the effect of climate change on migration patterns. Researchers concluded that the majority of bird species are spending winters farther north, with some species moving hundreds of miles northward.
The complete list of birds--name of bird and number seen--from the 2010 Mid-Cape Christmas Bird Count is published in the January 28, 2011 issue of the Barnstable Enterprise.
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