Apologies if you get this twice - I'm sending it to both the NH Birds list and to me Laconia CBC list. Double the reading fun for those of you on both!
Yesterday a band of 25 hardy souls braved the wind and spread out across a big chunk of Belknap County for the 70th running of the Laconia-New Hampton Christmas Bird Count. People were spread out in up to 14 parties due to COVID restrictions, which alas reduced our usual sense of camaraderie (especially at the traditional compilation at the New Hong Buffet in Belmont - hopefully next winter!).
We tallied 57 species, the same as last year and right around the recent average. Numbers of many songbirds may have been low (e.g., sparrows) because of the wind, while others were at or above average (chickadees, nuthatches). Songbird highlights include a nice mix of northern finches, although only Pine Grosbeaks and Common Redpolls were widespread. Evening Grosbeaks had a poorer showing then expected, with only 12 in the southwest arc of the circle, while the only Purple Finches were in Laconia. Crossbills, which have been exceptionally widespread this fall, were limited to a single Red in Tilton (only the 9th count record) and a flock of 22 White-winged in Laconia. The former species is definitely less common in central NH than it was a couple of months ago, while the latter is still increasing - although patchily distributed. Three other landbirds of note were in Laconia, two of which were in the Ahern State Park area. These were our sixth count record of Fox Sparrow and - amazingly enough - FIRST COUNT RECORD of Gray Catbird. It's hard to believe that a count that's been going for 70 years had never had a catbird before, so extra kudos to Becky Suomala for finding this one! For point of reference, this count has had King Eider, Northern Gannet, and Northern Waterthrush, but never a catbird until yesterday. The wonders never cease. A Hermit Thrush that's been in Cook Anderson's yard appeared after a two day absence to become the ninth record for the count. Red-tailed Hawk and Bald Eagle also set records (16 and 14, respectively), although I still need to sort through the eagles to check for possible duplicates. Since eagles continue to increase here in NH, however, I'd certainly not be surprised if the provisional total is legit.
This count is also known for its waterbirds, and yesterday the "good" ducks included a single Ring-neck, 11 Greater Scaup, and a record 12 Bufflehead. The latter are also subject to adjustment after I think about them some more, since birds could easily have been moving around Winnisquam Lake over the course of the day. On the down side, we only found *ONE* American Black Duck - tucked away with about 100 Mallards on Silver Lake. This is the lowest total ever (it can't get any lower!), although we have hit single digits multiple times - including only 7 last year. And despite typical numbers of Common Goldeneye and no shortage of search effort, we failed to turn up a Barrow's. Finally, a Double-crested Cormorant that had been frequenting the state marina in Glendale was last seen on the 25th - one day sort of making it into "Count Week." There are only two previous records of this species for the count (but three of Great!).
A full report will hopefully get drafted over the weekend for distribution to participants, and I'll close by thanking all of them once again for a job well done!
Pam Hunt, compiler
"The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world."