Thursday, October 19, 2006
2006 Roundtop Bird Sightings
I took this photo last night over by Roundtop's new pond. I like this view. I've posted other photos looking down this same trail, but I think I've finally gotten it when the color change is as intense as it's going to get this year.
This morning, I started looking over my 2006 bird list for Roundtop, and like the weather this year, it is turning out to be an odd one. Although the year still has 2+ months to go, migration is already slowing down, so I can no longer expect too many more new species. My current running total is 74 species for the year, lower than is typical by more than 10 species. I’ve seen a few birds that I rarely see here—most notably a Common raven in February. But I haven’t seen plenty of species at all this year that in the past I could always count on.
My warbler season, both spring and fall, was terrible. There’s no other word for it. Actually, the warbler season was beyond terrible. I often have a decent run of warblers on Roundtop, though it’s never been a warbler hot spot. This year I haven’t seen a single redstart here, when in many years they have been almost as common as yellow-rumped warblers. I didn’t have a single vireo either, and that’s the first year in 15 years here on the mountain that has happened.
The hawk migration never really materialized over Roundtop—at least not while I was at home.
Eastern towhees were less commonly seen and heard than usual, as were Indigo buntings. I love hearing the song of the Scarlet tanager in a summer evening. Usually, that’s a fairly common event here, but not this year, when I only heard them four times and only saw a single female.
A few species that I see occasionally turned out to be common this year. I had more Eastern kingbirds hanging out on the slopes this summer than I’ve ever seen before. I know of three nesting pairs, all of which seemed to breed successfully and fledge at least 2-3 young apiece.
American goldfinch, which are common, turned out to be abundant this year. I had 50 separate sightings, usually of multiple birds in each sighting. That’s not quite twice the number of sightings I can expect in a year.
I have to say that I haven’t yet found a reason or reasons to explain the unusual results. It’s certainly nothing as straightforward as seeing more southern-ranged birds and fewer northern species. If you pressed me on this, I would likely say that my migration sightings were way lower than usual. My fall migration sightings were close to non-existent, which makes me question breeding success further north, but I need to hear results from lots of other sites before I come to that conclusion. Even my resident birds posted some unusual results. For now, I’m just going to say I’m having an odd year and hope it’s nothing more than that.