Contests & Special Counts

Annual Waterfowl CountUpdated 05/05/2021

Waterfowl Count for 2021 

The annual waterfowl count was developed by New York State Ornithological Association (NYSOA) in 1955 and the count has been done every year since, except for 1968 1972. NYSOA is for birders and birds of New York State. Their objective is to document the ornithology of New York, to foster interest in appreciation of birds and to protect birds and their habitat.

The Waterfowl Count is done every January and each year members visit lakes, rivers and shore lines to count ducks, geese, swans, loons, grebes, etc. Reports are done by each group and sent to NYSOA, tallied and published in their magazine, The Kingbird. Most years more than a quarter of a million birds are reported. This has proven to be a useful survey for long term monitoring of the waterfowl population wintering in NYS.

SCAS' results: This year we had 16 participants who went out for a total of 28 hours. Different folks join together for the count and they made up a total of five groups. We reported a total of 1,649 birds to NYSOA.

The species reported by us are: Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Hooded and Common Mergansers. Of the more unusual ones seen there were: 1 Northern Pintail, 10 Green-winged Teal, 5 Ring-necked Ducks, 2 Greater Scaup, 8 Bufflehead, and 1 Common Loon.

NYSOA has already selected target dates for next year's count as January 15 23, 2022. Bill Ostrander is the compiler for our region. Perhaps next year you might want to give it a try! If you are interested and have any questions, Renee Davis will be happy to assist.

Pat Cocot


It Is What It’s Quacked Up To Be!    Posted 12/28/18

The waterfowl count that is! 2019 will be SCAS’ 21st year in doing this count for the New York State Ornithological Association (NYSOA) which, in turn, works with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This year’s count takes place Saturday, January 19th through Saturday, January 26th, with Sunday the 20th being the main target day.

“What do we do?” you ask. We visit lakes, ponds, and rivers anywhere in Sullivan County to count ducks, geese (lots of them), and mergansers, swans, loons and grebes. We even throw in some of those hybrid ducks also.

It’s easy, just write down how many of each kind you see, where you saw them and what day and time you saw them. This way when the data is compiled no bird will be double-counted.    

There are lots of bodies of water that you can look at for waterfowl in Sullivan County. Jump in the car and take a spin around our county and see what you can spot.  Keep track of your time and miles to add to your report.  At the end of your day, report your information to Pat Cocot by phone: 845-794-1391 or email .

State-wide results are printed in NYSOA’s publication, The Kingbird.  In most years, more than a quarter of a million birds are tallied in NYS.  In addition to being an enjoyable outing, DEC has acknowledged this to be a useful survey for long-term monitoring of waterfowl populations wintering in New York.  So go out and see what you can find for this year’s count.
Updated from an article by Renee Davis and the NYSOA website.


2017 Waterfowl Count Results    Posted 4/18/17

During the week of Jan 14th thru the 22nd eleven counters searched Sullivan County in the annual waterfowl count. From the western Delaware River to the eastern Rondout Reservoir, northern Rockland Brook the the southern Bashakill, hopefully, no duck or goose went uncounted. Every brook, river, lake and spring were surveyed to the best of our ability.

Thanks go out to Susan Fontana, Helen and Bill Lagoda, Marge and Roy Gorton, Ruth Shursky, Ruth McKeon, Arlene Borko, John Haas and Scott Baldinger for all their help.

Between everyone we racked up 558 miles in 35 hours. That brought us seven species of waterfowl consisting of 1123 birds. Mallards won high count with a total of 491. Canada Geese came in second with 386. Black Ducks finished third with 159. Hooded Mergansers tallied 38, Common Mergansers 31, Common Goldeneyes 10, and 8 hybrid ducks turned up this year.
Renee Davis

2016 Waterfowl Count Results    Posted 3/10/16

The second week of January each year brings us to the New York State Waterfowl Count. This is a count of all New York’s ducks, geese, swans, loons and mergansers. It is a joint program between the New York State DEC and the New York State Ornithological Association. The DEC has acknowledged this to be a useful survey for long-term monitoring of waterfowl populations wintering in New York. Sullivan County Audubon has participated in it for 19 years now. We have several teams and two backyard watchers which cover just about all of Sullivan County.

This year 1462 birds were counted. 789 Canada Geese were found in the county. Our high count for them was in 2012 when we had 1518 overwinter. Mallards stood at 554, down from a high of 1148 in 2011. Black Ducks numbered 41, Hooded Mergansers 27, and Common Mergansers 43. A special treat was 1 Wood Duck not seen on this count since 2008, 1 Ring-necked Duck not seen in three years and 5 Common Goldeneye which are  always welcome on this count. One hybrid mallard/black was reported which has been seen several times over the past 8 years.

My thanks go out to the hardy counters of Sullivan County Audubon: Marge Gorton, Ruth Shursky, Arlene Borko, Ruth Mckeon, John Haas, Helen Lagoda, and Susan Fontana. Because of them and many others over the years we have tallied a grand total of 26891 birds wintering in Sullivan County.
Renee Davis

2015 Waterfowl Count Results    Posted 3/10/15

In January, eight of Sullivan County’s best fowl counters got out to count for our 17th year of the Winter Waterfowl Count for the State of New York. January started out cold and it wasn't long before much of our open water was frozen. Only warm springs and fast moving water stayed open which concentrated birds in a few areas. The Delaware River had frozen areas with ice flows in others. The Bashakill was also frozen with the channel remaining open along with one or two marshy areas and the “pool” at Melrose Farm. The Rondout inflow, Neversink River, and The Little Beaverkill were also open in spots. All these areas produced birds.

Mallards topped our list with 941 being recorded, along with 746 Canada Geese, 97 Black Ducks, 14 Hooded Mergansers, 26 Common Mergansers, 6 Goldeneyes, and 1 hybrid mallard/black duck. 1831 birds were counted, that now brings our overall total up to 25429 birds!

Not bad for a cold day in winter, in January, in Sullivan County!

Thanks to everyone who participated.
Renee Davis

2014 Waterfowl Count Results   Posted 2/28/14

Sullivan County Audubon conducted its 16th annual Waterfowl Count for New York State on the week of January 19th. All the teams involved came up with 1641 birds for that week. Totals are Canada Geese 410, Black Ducks 103, Mallards 971, Mallard/Black Hybrid 1, Green-winged Teal 1, Bufflehead 2, Com Goldeneye 13, Hooded Mergansers 28, and Common Mergansers 112.

Most of our water was frozen thanks to the "Polar Vortex" and many birds moved out to warmer areas. Only tiny areas were open along the Bashakill and Delaware River and its tributaries; this limited birds to be encountered there. Eight die-hards drove 353 miles in 26 hours around our county to tally our birds. Thanks to Arlene Borko, John Haas, Helen Lagoda, Susan Fontana, Ruth McKeon, Ruth Shursky and Marge Gorton for their help in this project.
Renee Davis

2013 Waterfowl Count Results   Posted 3/8/13

Cold weather set in our area the week before our annual count and froze up many areas that harbored ducks. They thought they were going to have a quiet winter here, open water, plenty of food, and relatively mild temperatures. Surprise---an arctic clipper moved in and most flew a little farther south, waterfowl that is. We do have a few human snow birds that moved south for the winter. I won't mention names. You know who you are! Imagine wanting to get away from 12 below zero, are they crazy, or are we?

Die hard birders----that's what we have here in Sullivan County. At least seven of us crazies. We traveled 414 miles and put in 24.5 hours counting ducks, geese, mergansers, and a swan. Some of the results were 1330 Canada Geese, 981 Mallards, and 124 Black Ducks. Three Northern Pintails were found, which now makes the seventh year in a row for their appearance. A Long-tailed Duck showed up on the Neversink Reservoir for our second re-cord ever along with three Ring-necked Ducks at the Bashakill for the second time since 2009.

This statewide survey information is used by the DEC in setting hunting limits.

Ruth Shursky, Ruth McKeon, Helen Logoda, Arlene Borko, John Haas, Marge Gorton and I counted 2551 birds, our third highest count and a little less than last year which was 2810.
Renee Davis

2012 Waterfowl Count Results   Posted 3/11/12

As Lawrence Welk would put it ---our wunerful, wunerful, wunerful watchers set out to count Sullivan County's wintering waterfowl for the annual NYSOA count. Nine team members crisscrossed our area and came up with 2810 individuals, 9 birds short of our biggest year 2007. Canada Geese broke their old record which was 1384 with a new one of 1518. Mallards fell short of their record, a high of 1148 in 2011, with 1088 being counted this year. Black Ducks flew away with 3rd place numbering 136. Hooded and Common Mergansers held steady with 22 and 39 respectively. A single Mute Swan and a Pintail showed up, and 2 American Wigeons were also seen. Warm weather (thank you La Niña) kept most of our water open until mid January and allowed more birds to over winter. Temperatures are still fluctuating and open water can still be found around the county. Look close and there might be a duck or two in them.

Thank you to our Wunerful, Wunerful, Wunerful Waterfowl Watchers who consisted of Arlene Borko, John Haas, Ruth Shursky, Ruth McKeon, Marge and Roy Gorton, Helen LaGoda, Bill Frederick and myself.
Renee Davis

2010 Waterfowl Count Results   Posted 3/11/10

On Sunday, Jan 17, 2010 Sullivan County Audubon conducted its annual waterfowl count for the NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation. Four teams were out covering the county and came up with 1362 birds. This number is down from the last two years.  In 2008 counters saw 1758 birds, and in 2007 we counted 2819 birds of which there were 759 Common Mergansers. I think the weather had a lot to do with our numbers this year as weeks before we had very cold temperatures and most of our open water froze over. Just before our count, it warmed up, and some waters opened up again, but it was too late, as the birds had already left for “greener pastures”!

Six members from Sullivan put in 22.25 hours of counting and traveled a total of 399 miles to come up with 544 Canada Geese, 683 Mallards, 92 Black Ducks, 35 Common Mergansers, 7 Hooded Mergansers and 1 Pintail. My thanks go out to John Haas, Arlene Borko, Helen Lagoda, Ruth McKeon and Ruth Shursky for their hard and dedicated work toward this project. Good job!
Renee Davis

Get All Your Ducks in a Row...    Posted 12/22/05

Then count them. Yep, that’s right, I'm not quacking up, it's the annual Waterfowl Count. Every January participants visit lakes and rivers throughout Sullivan County and count the numbers of ducks, geese, swans, and other water birds. The count period this year is January 14-22, with a target date of Sunday the 15th. I tally the total of birds found and report them to Bryan Swift of the NYS DEC.

“The annual midwinter waterfowl count has been conducted by the NYS Ornithological Association (formerly Federation of NYS Bird Clubs) since 1955 except the four years from 1968-1972. The results of these counts are a valuable long-term population monitoring program for waterfowl. The NYS DEC has discontinued aerial surveys and now they rely on the January Waterfowl count as the standard survey." (NYSOA Waterfowl Count webpage)   In the past five years, we here in Sullivan County have tallied 5,801 birds, consisting of 10 species. The year 2000 was our lowest count with 795 birds tallied; 2002 was our highest with 1199 birds counted. That works out to an average of 966.83 birds counted each year.

Add our total to the rest of New York’s birds and you come up with an amazing number of birds. In the year 2000, 382,516 birds of 44 different species were counted. 2001 showed us 397,764 individuals of 46 species, and in 2002 also with 46 different species for a total count of 447,867. 2003 again with 46 species tallied 320,665 birds and 2004 had 47 species with 347,661 individuals. The Canada Goose is our most abundant bird here in Sullivan County, with Mallards running second. Black ducks beat out Common Mergansers for third place and Hooded Mergansers finish in fifth. Over the years we've also had Snow Geese, Common Goldeneye, Wood Ducks, Gadwall, and Mute Swans during the count period.

I hope you'll be able to help us out this year by keeping your eyes open for waterfowl within the count dates. If you see any birds, jot down the date, species, numbers of individuals, time of day, and the location. Call me with your report on or shortly after January 22. I can be reached at (845) 482-5044, but please call before 8 pm. For more information, check out the Waterfowl Count on the NYSOA website.

Renee Davis