It was a frigid, blustery, sleety, snowy morning when the participants in the 84th Montauk Christmas Bird Count left the comfort of their homes on Dec. 14 to identify and count the birds in a 15-mile-diameter circle including Montauk, three quarters of Amagansett (including Napeague), Springs, and Gardiner’s Island. Some of the counters were participating in their 30th or more Montauk count. These Christmas counts were an alternative to hunting birds with guns and began in the very first years of the 20th century in New York City.
Last week I wrote from San Francisco, a metropolitan area with an influx of wild animals, including coyotes. Now I am at Nevada City in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas at about 2,500 feet. There is snow on the ground from the once-a-year snow and the temperature hovers at the freezing mark each evening.