2017 Chesterville Christmas Bird Count Highlights
Washington College’s Center for the Environment & Society sponsored the 11th annual Chesterville Christmas Bird Count on December 31, 2017. Christmas Bird Counts are overseen by National Audubon Society and have been running since 1900! Counts are locally run, but follow guidelines and procedures set forth by Audubon to ensure data across the country (and now the world) can be compared.
The Chesterville Circle covers parts of Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s County with a diameter of 15 miles. The habitat is mostly farmland, but includes wood lots, parts of the Sassafras and Chester Rivers and some residential areas. The bulk of the circle is privately owned, though portions of Sassafras Natural Resources Management Area and Millington Wildlife Management Area are included. As is Chino Farms, the nearly 5,000 acre property now Washington College’s River and Field Campus (RAFC).
The extreme cold this year definitely had an effect on the birds seen by counters. The day began at 17 degrees and topped out at 21 meaning nearly all bodies of water were iced in. According, may waterfowl species were recorded in record low numbers including Wood Duck, Mallard and Ring-necked Duck. Record high numbers were observed in some species including Red-tailed Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, and Myrtle Warbler. Several sparrow species were also seen in record number including Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow.
Highlights of the count were the two species new for our cumulative list. John Hubbell found a Yellow-headed Blackbird mixed in with a large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds along Red Lion Branch Road. These blackbirds use the same habitats as Red-winged, but are generally a western species rarely seen in Maryland. The other new species for our circle was the Red-headed Woodpecker found by Jim Gruber. These colorful woodpeckers can be found year-round in Maryland, but are sparsely distributed on the mid and upper Shore and seldom seen in Kent County.
The 20 participants in this count covered over 500 miles by foot and car and put in about 90 hours of effort to find a total of 96 species for the day. Christmas Bird Count participants are a dedicated group of birders no matter their age (our youngest counter was 13 and the eldest 78). The 2018 Count will be held on Sunday December 23rd. Contact Maren Gimpel, compiler, for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org