Volunteers at this year’s Christmas Bird Count spotted 119 species, according to Gazette bird columnist Susan Whiting, a cocompiler of the annual event on the Island. Though the species count was similar to recent years, the number of individual birds spotted, 21,730, was lower than in most counts of late. In 2010, only 15,926 individual birds were counted, due to few participant, but in 2009 32,114 individual birds were recorded. In 2008, that number was nearly 83,000.
Why the low count this year? The weather was foul on Jan. 2, when the count was conducted. “Everything was hunkered down,” said Ms. Whiting. However, she notes that the decrease in sightings constitutes an ongoing trend from when the bird count first started on Martha’s Vineyard 52 years ago. “The numbers are down between 20 to 50 per cent,” Ms. Whiting said.