7906 individual birds of 62 species were observed by members and friends of the Athol Bird and Nature Club in the annual Christmas bird count on December 20th. Part of national Audubon’s 115th annual count the Athol group has surveyed the Athol Circle for 47 consecutive years. The Athol count covers a 15 mile diameter circle including most of Athol, Orange, Phillipston, Royalston, and parts of Warwick, Petersham, Templeton, and New Salem.
Some highlights from this year’s count include a pair of red-necked grebes observed and photographed by Dale Monette and Dick Cooper at Quabbin’s Gate 35. This is a new species for the Athol count. Carolina wrens tied their high count of 22 from last year, while Eastern bluebirds were observed across the area with an all time high of 75 being reported. Raptors were well represented with an all time high of 8 bald Eagles, red tailed hawks with an all time high of 22, plus Northern Harrier and Rough-legged Hawk also making rare appearances.
The complete list and numbers observed: Canada goose 115, black duck 29, Mallard 176, northern pintail 1, hooded merganser 23, common merganser 16, ringed neck pheasant 3, ruffed grouse 1, wild Turkey 210, common loon 5, red necked Grebe 2, bald Eagle 8, northern Harrier 1, sharp shinned Hawk 1, Coopers Hawk 4, red tailed Hawk 22, red shouldered Hawk 1, rough legged Hawk 1, ring billed gull 16, herring gull 2, rock pigeon 378, mourning dove 230, great horned owl 4, barred owl 8, northern saw-whet owl 5, belted Kingfisher 1, red bellied woodpecker 39, downy woodpecker 172, hairy woodpecker 80, yellow shafted flicker 1, Pileated woodpecker 18, northern shrike 2, blue Jay 511, American Crow 237, common Raven 34, horned lark 14, black capped Chickadee 1430, tufted titmouse 344, red breasted nuthatch 30, white breasted nuthatch 282, Brown creeper 10, Carolina Wren 22, winter Wren 2, Golden crowned Kinglet 16, Eastern bluebird 75, American Robin 373, northern Mockingbird 4, European Starling 585, Cedar waxwing 43, American tree sparrow 142, field sparrow 1, Eastern Fox sparrow 1, song sparrow 12, white throated sparrow 19, dark eyed Junco 750, snow Bunting 5, northern Cardinal 129, Brown headed cowbird(count week) purple Finch 4, house Finch 84, pine Siskin 84, American Goldfinch 666, house sparrow 422.
Participants in the field included: Harvey Allen, Dave Caldwell, Anne Cervantes, Dick Cooper, Joan Duprey, Larry Duprey, Steve Farrell, Joe Fenalli, Lula field, Bill Fregeau, Tony Gola, Chuck Hartwell, Cindy Hartwell, John Henshaw, Jeff Johnstone, Bruce Kanash, Bob Mallet, James Mallet, Tammy McFaul, Greg McGuane, Judy McGuane, Dale Monette, Jacob Morris-Siegel, Tom Murray, Tom Pirro, Mike Polana, Jay Rasku, William Rasku, Joshua Rose, Bruce Scherer, David Small, Shelley Small, Ann Spring and Heidi Strickland. The count would not be complete without our dedicated feeder watchers who submitted their day’s count: Mary Adams, Lynn Boudreau, Marty Harmon, Sue Heinricher, Jim Herbert, Bob Juckins, Keith Morandi, Audrey Pagnotto and Tom Rich.