The Mast-Head: Eight Species, 80 Crows

   In the weekend’s Great Backyard Bird Count, which I wrote about on Feb. 9, East Hampton Town was considerably better represented than in 2011. My own participation was less than I had hoped, however, as I was laid low with a stomach virus that is going around — the less said about that the better.
    The count draws on the contributions of thousands of birders across North America, who are asked to spend a minimum of 15 minutes over the course of three days, usually during Presidents Day weekend, jotting down what they see and submitting results online. Taken together, the data provide a snapshot of the distribution and variety of birds, as well as of the birders. This year, 10.6 million birds were identified, though participants have until March 5 to submit reports. More than 75,000 checklists have been logged so far.
    I had hoped to birdwatch each day, with one session on the Montauk bluffs counting scoters. This was not to be; Saturday morning, after breakfast and some chores, I was taken ill and went back to bed and stayed there for the rest of the weekend.
    But at least I beat my 2011 total, returning to Lazy Point on Friday afternoon, where I tallied black ducks, mergansers, golden eyes, and herring gulls — 249 in all. Coincidentally, in each of the three years I have taken part, I have identified the same number of species: eight.
    Perhaps because of the mild weather for the count, reports from within the Town of East Hampton exceeded those of 2011. There was but one filed from Montauk last year; so far in 2012 there have been 13. There were 15 from the East Hampton ZIP code, mine alone from Amagansett, and none from Wainscott. The town’s top bird this year was the Canada goose, which numbered 994.
     Montauk’s 62 species put it in the In the weekend’s Great Backyard Bird Count, which I wrote about on Feb. 9, East Hampton Town was considerably better represented than in 2011. My own participation was less than I had hoped, however, as I was laid low with a stomach virus that is going around — the less said about that the better.
    The count draws on the contributions of thousands of birders across North America, who are asked to spend a minimum of 15 minutes over the course of three days, usually during Presidents Day weekend, jotting down what they see and submitting results online. Taken together, the data provide a snapshot of the distribution and variety of birds, as well as of the birders. This year, 10.6 million birds were identified, though participants have until March 5 to submit reports. More than 75,000 checklists have been logged so far.
    I had hoped to birdwatch each day, with one session on the Montauk bluffs counting scoters. This was not to be; Saturday morning, after breakfast and some chores, I was taken ill and went back to bed and stayed there for the rest of the weekend.
    But at least I beat my 2011 total, returning to Lazy Point on Friday afternoon, where I tallied black ducks, mergansers, golden eyes, and herring gulls — 249 in all. Coincidentally, in each of the three years I have taken part, I have identified the same number of species: eight.
    Perhaps because of the mild weather for the count, reports from within the Town of East Hampton exceeded those of 2011. There was but one filed from Montauk last year; so far in 2012 there have been 13. There were 15 from the East Hampton ZIP code, mine alone from Amagansett, and none from Wainscott. The town’s top bird this year was the Canada goose, which numbered 994.
     Montauk’s 62 species put it in the state’s top four areas, behind Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Ithaca. Fifty-four species were counted in East Hampton, which came in at number seven. The numbers can be found online at gbbc. birdsource.org, where you can discover nuggets like the astonishing 80 crows listed on Sagaponack’s lone 2012 entry, which contained only this species. Southampton (ah, Southampton) contributed a mere 11 species in three reports.
    For the third year in a row, New York took top state honors, with 4,471 checklists so far, and it ranked fifth in total number of birds.