Sunday, May 24, 2009

Counting Knots

According to a post on the Delaware birding list (from May 22), recent counts have estimated that there are about 12,000 Red Knots around Delaware Bay.

I've been spending a lot of time down with the shorebird research team and thought everyone might like to know how things are going. The birds really started coming in about May 14, which is a bit later than usual. They have been building rapidly since then. The last bay-wide aerial survey was yesterday and the count was roughly 12,000 Knot and 16,000 Turnstones. This week and next week should be the peak weeks for the shorebirds. After about the 30th I would anticipate that some would start leaving and almost all should be gone by June 6 or so (keep in mind each year is different and this is my best educated guess). For those of you following the knot closely, 12,000 is not necessarily the high number for the year. A mathematical model is typically used to calculate the population size since all of the knot are probably not in the bay at any one time.
She further suggests that Mispillion Harbor is currently the best place for viewing Red Knots; last week the harbor featured 3,000-7,000 knots daily. Of course, there are plenty of other reliable spots, in both Delaware and New Jersey.

A count of 12,000 seems to be more or less in line with counts from the past few years (e.g.). Whether or not that is a sign of stabilization remains to be seen. There is probably more that can be gleaned this year's banding studies. If you find a color-marked shorebird, make sure to report it through