December 18, 2015
My first Roswell CBC (Christmas Bird Count) was blessed with almost 60 degree weather and no wind. Our route covered a major portion within the refuge. Starting in Unit 7 about an hour after sunrise, we were treated to wave after wave of Sandhill Cranes launching from their night roost to the agricultural fields to the south. Around 2500 went over us with their vocalizations being almost as impressive as their majestic flight. Once the group had departed, we started the somewhat less glorious work of counting all waterfowl, sparrows, etc. Roswell is warm enough in winter to shelter some shorebirds and we found several species including Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher and Wilson's Snipe. Several lingering egrets were around-Snowy and Great. The sparrow show was strong with many Swamp and Song Sparrows cozy in the bulrushes.
One of our major quests of the count was rails and bitterns. We were able to encounter several Sora and American Bitterns, but the highlight of the day was Virginia Rail. We kept playing tape and walking and getting responses. By the end of the day we recorded a staggering 32 Virginia Rails. Wonder if this will be the high count nationally for that species.
The rest of the count had other highlights including a co-operative Prairie Falcon, a day-roosting Great Horned Owl, and a surprisingly late Common Yellowthroat. I will certainly do this count again in the future.