Just getting around to a post on the annual National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count in the Hartford area, held this past December 16. This was my 35th year doing the Christmas Count along the Connecticut River in Wethersfield. As has been the case almost every year for the past 33 years, I was joined by Steve Kotchko and Judd Everhart.
The weather was about as bad as it gets for the count. It rained most of the time we were out, sometimes very lightly, sometimes moderately, with temperatures no higher than 38 degrees. With the rain, it was hard to keep drops of water off our binocular eyepieces, or keep them from fogging up. The roads and paths in the Great Meadows along the river were messy muddy. We all would have been happier if it was snowing lightly. Even though we were dressed for the weather, and the temperature stayed above freezing, it was cold.
Still, we had a reasonably good count, even with many of the birds hunkered down with the weather. Judd spotted common goldeneye on the Connecticut River right after we began. Not a bird we see often on the count. Two immature bald eagles at Crow Point Cove. And perhaps the bird of the day was a solitary common loon on the river, repeatedly diving. I got some photos but they are nothing special because the bird was so far away I had to greatly enlarge its images on the computer, sacrificing clarity. Got one photo of the loon with a just-caught fish in its bill.
Overall, 83 species were seen in the Hartford count area, including Greater white-fronted goose, bufflehead and the loon we saw.
Judd and I headed for home late morning, chilled from the cold rain. Steve continued on birding in the afternoon, and really beefed up the list.
Our total for the day, including birds Steve saw in the afternoon, was 36. Right about where we always come in. Here is our species list for the day: Common loon, Canada goose, Wood duck, Mallard, Common goldeneye, Common merganser, Ring-necked pheasant, Great blue heron, Bald eagle, Cooper’s hawk, Red-tailed hawk, Ring-billed gull, Herring gull, Great black-backed gull, Rock pigeon, Mourning dove, Belted kingfisher, Red-bellied woodpecker, Downy woodpecker, Hairy woodpecker, Northern flicker, Blue jay, Black-capped chickadee, Tufted titmouse, White-breasted nuthatch, Carolina wren, Northern mockingbird, European starling, Song sparrow, White-throated sparrow, Dark-eyed junco, Northern cardinal, Common grackle, House finch, American goldfinch, House sparrow.