The 117th CBC in Maryland and Delaware

I think it is important to remember Chan Robbins with this year’s report since Chan was a big proponent of the Christmas Bird Counts. I remember him as a fixture at many count tally’s I attended in Maryland (often at the head of the table doing the work of the compiler). Being the father of the Breeding Bird Survey, he understood the importance of standardized methods to a bird census like the CBC. He also summarized all the Maryland Counts in the Maryland Ornithological Society publication “Maryland Birdlife” (an effort that I’m hoping to help continue). Chan passed away earlier this year (March 20, 2017) and his leadership will be missed by birders everywhere.

Adverse weather hampered results on a few counts this year. The Allegany and Oakland Counts (both held on Saturday December 17th) encountered icy conditions that kept many counters at home in the early morning. Deep Creek Lake was reportedly ice-free during Wednesday’s scouting but frozen on Count Day resulting in a high number of “count week” (cw) species on the Oakland Count. The Elkton and Bombay Hook Counts both had some heavy afternoon rains while Seaford-Nanticoke’s heavy rain was in the morning. Port Tobacco experienced a cold front resulting in lower temperatures (20 degrees F) accompanied by light rain and increased wind in the afternoon (~2:30 pm).

There was an influx of Brown Pelicans in the Chesapeake Bay this year and they showed up in a few of the counts covering the bay. Seaford-Nanticoke had nice counts of interesting gulls at the Sussex County Landfill (with Iceland, Glaucous, Lesser Black-backed Gulls). The Wilmington Count had those species as well but not in quite the same numbers. Other highlights include several Sandhill Cranes at Triadelphia, warbler species on several counts, some interesting sparrows, and a Crested Caracara in Delaware.

WATERFOWL

Lower Kent County had 2 Pink-footed Geese and a Greater White-fronted x Canada Goose hybrid. Patuxent River had their first Greater White-fronted Goose. Sugarloaf and Bombay Hook reported the species for count week. Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had a “high count” (hc) of 170,708 Snow Geese and Milford’s high was 128,686. At Rehoboth 50,432 was a “near high” (quite close to the hc of 55,540). At Seaford-Nanticoke, 670 was a 34-year low count. There were three Ross’s Geese on the Triadelphia Count. The Oakland Count had one. The Sugarloaf Count had one for count week. Bombay Hook had a high of eight Ross’s Geese and Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had six (close to the all-time high of 7). Milford had two and Seaford-Nanticoke had one. Lower Kent had 13 Cackling Geese, and others were at Chesterville (9), Anappolis-Gibson Island (5), and Jug Bay (2) while Milford, Bowie, Rock Run, and Ocean City each had one. The Ocean City Count had two Mute Swans which are not common in Worcester County; Seneca had two as well (hc). Bowie had three Trumpeter Swans (hc) while Annapolis Gibson-Island and Rock Run each had one. Seaford-Nanticoke had a high count of 3400 Tundra Swans, Ocean City had 1675, Chesterville had 1037, and Oakland had 41.

Milford had a high of 38 Wood Ducks and Patuxent River had a high of six. Ocean City and Wilmington (their 1st) each had a single Eurasian Wigeon and Rehoboth had two. Seneca had one which is bit more unusual. Two American Wigeon at Chesterville was a low count. Saint Michaels had one for count week. Bowie, Ocean City, Rehoboth and lower Kent each had an American Black Duck x Mallard hybrid. At Chesterville, 768 Mallards was a low count. Bombay Hook had Blue-winged Teal for count week. Oakland had a Northern Shoveler for count week. Chesterville had a low of one Northern Pintail though it was missed once. Four pintails at the Patuxent River Count was a high for them. Seneca and Sugarloaf had them for count week. There were 228 Green-winged Teal at Crisfield (hc); Oakland had them for count week.

Lower Kent County had 16,800 Canvasback (hc). Middle River and Seneca had Canvasback for count week. Bowie had eight Redhead (hc). Oakland had Redhead for count week. Crisfield had a high of 12 Ring-necked Ducks. Oakland had Greater Scaup for count week, while Sugarloaf had their first ever. Two Lesser Scaup was low for Chesterville though it has been missed. Lower Kent had a high of 128,254 Lesser Scaup. Port Tobacco’s high count was 516. Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had Common Eider for count week. Patuxent River had a high count of 809 Black Scoters. Oakland had Long-tailed Duck for count week. Bufflehead high counts were Port Tobacco (336), Denton (42), Seaford-Nanticoke (26), Bowie (11), and Washington County (7). Middle River had a Common Goldeneye (cw). Chesterville had a high of 123 Hooded Mergansers and South Dorchester also had a high of 118, and Sugarloaf also had a high of 85. Ocean City had Common Merganser for count week (which is not common there). Milford had 34 (hc).

QUAIL AND TURKEY

At Denton two Northern Bobwhites was a low number (though they have been missed). Chesterville had 29, Crisfield had three, Denton had two, and Ocean City had one. Washington County had a nice high count of 143 Wild Turkey while Catoctin had a high of 38, 33 was the high for Seneca, and 25 was the high at Patuxent River. Point Lookout had one for count week.

GREBES - CRANES

Middle River Horned Grebe for count week. Annapolis Gibson-Island had a Red-necked Grebe (their 4th). Seneca had an Eared Grebe for count week. The Patuxent River count had a Rufous Hummingbird. The Bowie Count had a high count of four Virginia Rails. Seneca had two Sandhill Cranes. Triadelphia had a whopping high count of 20 Sandhill Cranes (with a photo).

SHOREBIRDS

The Ocean City Count had two Piping Plovers, and they also had four Marbled Godwits (hc). Bombay Hook had a Marbled Godwit during count week. Ocean City had only nine Purple Sandpipers (on the low side). Eight Purple Sandpipers at Jug Bay was a high count. They also had a high of seven Dunlin. Seneca had a Spotted Sandpiper. Rehoboth had 83 Greater Yellowlegs (high count). Crisfield and Bombay Hook each had a Willet (5th for Bombay Hook).

ALCIDS - GULLS

Ocean City had a Dovekie. Oakland had a Bonaparte’s Gull (cw) Denton had their 3rd Black-headed Gull. Lower Kent County had a Laughing Gull. Crisfield had a high count of 10,293 Ring-billed Gulls. Middle River had an Iceland Gull and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Seaford-Nanticoke had a high of four Iceland Gulls and Annapolis-Gibson Island had one for count week. Seaford-Nanticoke had a nice high count of 125 Lesser Black-backed Gulls while four was a high for Rehoboth. Elkton also had two and Ocean City had one Lesser Black-backed Gull. Three Glaucous Gulls was a count high for Seaford-Nanticoke and Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had one (their 4th). The Wilmington count also had interesting gulls in the form of three Iceland Gulls, a Glaucous Gull, and 18 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

LOONS – PELICANS

The Patuxent River Count had a high of 72 Common Loons. They also had a high count of 206 Double-crested Cormorants. Annapolis-Gibson Island had a high count of 8272 Double-crested Cormorants. Oakland had one for count week. Twenty-six American White Pelicans on the South Dorchester Count still seems unusual even though they have been there for a few years now. One on the Elkton Count was an unusual species (1st occurrence) for them. A Brown Pelican on the Annapolis-Gibson Island Count counts as unusual being so far up the bay (there were also several sightings in the upper bay in the Fall). At Jug Bay, 30 was an all-time count high. Further downstream along the Chesapeake Bay, the Patuxent River Count had 71 Brown Pelicans and St. Michaels had 11.

HERONS & EGRETS – EAGLES

The South Dorchester Count had an American Bittern. The Delaware counts had American Bitterns (Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook 4, Rehoboth 2, and Bombay Hook 1). Catoctin Mountain had a high count of 381 Black Vultures and Annapolis-Gibson Island had a high of 245. Seneca had an Osprey (which is unusual). South Dorchester had 186 Bald Eagles which was high but not an all-time high (their high count is 206). Seaford-Nanticoke had 88 and Milford had 86 Bald Eagles (all-time high counts). On the Point Lookout Count, 39 Bald Eagles was close to the all-time high of 40. Rehoboth had a Golden Eagle (their 2nd).

OWLS & WOODPECKERS - FALCONS

Chesterville had a high count of 49 Great Horned Owls. Milford and Wilmington each had two Long-eared Owls. Bombay Hook had a Long-eared Owl for count week. Chesterville and Bombay Hook each had a Northern Saw-whet Owl and Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook and Rock Run each had two. Patuxent River had a high count of 19 Red-headed Woodpeckers. The Oakland Count had three Red-headed and 22 Red-bellied Woodpeckers (both count highs). On the Allegany Count, 10 Downy Woodpeckers was a low (out of 54 counts). Lower Kent had a high count of 30 Pileated Woodpeckers, while St. Michaels had a high count of 20. Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had a Crested Caracara that was around for a while after the count period. Chesterville had three Merlins (high count). Elkton had one Merlin (their 8th). Seneca had one for count week. Jug Bay had their 3rd Peregrine Falcon.

SONGBIRDS

FLYCATCHERS, SHRIKES, CORVIDS

A single Eastern Phoebe was a low count on the Chesterville Count. Ocean City had 40 Eastern Phoebes which was high (but not an all-time high). Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had their first Ash-throated Flycatcher. They also had a Northern Shrike for count week. A single Fish Crow on the Chesterville Count was lower than usual. Common Ravens continue to be found in Maryland with 27 at Catoctin, three at Bowie and Jug Bay’s 1st occurrence (all high counts).

HORNED LARK – CEDAR WAXWING

Chesterville had a high of 1201 Horned Larks. Rehoboth had two Black-capped Chickadees (9th occurrence). On the Allegany Count 19 was a low count for Tufted Titmouse. Annapolis-Gibson Island had 223 White-breasted Nuthatches (hc). Lower Kent had a high of 17 Brown Creepers and their 8th Sedge Wren. Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had a high of eight Marsh Wrens. Chesterville had an all-time high of 30 Ruby-crowned Kinglets while two at Denton was on the low side (though it has been missed). At Port Tobacco, seven Hermit Thrushes was an all-time low tally across all 39 counts there. Annapolis-Gibson Island had 53 Brown Thrashers. Oakland had a Northern Mockingbird for count week. St. Michaels had 1689 Cedar Waxwings (high count).

WARBLERS

The Ocean City Count had a high of 12 Orange-crowned Warblers. Chesterville and Bombay Hook each had three Orange-crowneds. Milford had their 3rd. Jug Bay, Middletown, and Wilmington each had a Nashville Warbler and Triadelphia had one for count week. Chesterville had a high of four Pine Warblers (3rd occurrence) and they had both Yellow (9) and Western (23) Palm Warblers (high count). Ocean City had an Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler. Milford had a high count of 588 Myrtle Warblers. Crisfield had a Prairie Warbler (their 2nd). Ocean City had a Wilson’s Warbler and a Yellow-breasted Chat. Bombay Hook also had a chat (their 10th).

TOWHEES - SPARROWS

Twelve Eastern Towhees was considered a low count on the Port Tobacco count (though they have been missed). Chesterville and Ocean City each had a Clay-colored Sparrow. Chesterville had a high of 163 Field Sparrows. Bowie had 128 Savannah Sparrows (1 short of their record high). Seneca had 47 which was close to their record high of 55. Chesterville had a Grasshopper Sparrow. Seneca had a Le Conte’s Sparrow. Ocean City had a single Nelson’s Sparrow (the only one in the MD/DE region). Annapolis-Gibson Island had 11 Red Fox Sparrows (not a high but they had 1 additional that was considered the slate-colored Passerella iliaca shistacea group pending acceptance by the MD DC Bird Records Committee). Chesterville had 994 Song Sparrows for a count high. Bowie and Bombay Hook (their 4th) each had a Lincoln’s Sparrow and Sugarloaf had one for count week. Chesterville had a high count of 156 White-crowned Sparrows. Port Tobacco’s high count was 32. On the Allegany Count, 49 Northern Cardinals was near the all-time low count of 45. Seneca had a Blue Grosbeak. Ocean City had a Dickcissel.

BLACKBIRDS - ORIOLES

Icterid numbers were noted as a feature of the Middletown Count. No all-time highs but good numbers (near-highs) of Red-winged Blackbirds (1,350,451) and Common Grackles (350,140). Chesterville had 26,363 Red-winged Blackbirds and 25 Eastern Meadowlarks (count highs). Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had 9 Brewer’s Blackbirds. The Bowie Count had a Baltimore Oriole.

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