06 December 2009

TOC Bird Walk–Waterfowl and Winter Birding

I saw 33 species of birds in a clearly-identifiable way.

American coot
American crow
American kestrel
American robin
American widgeon
black duck
blue jay
common goldeneye
common loon
downy woodpecker
greater scaup
hairy woodpecker
hooded merganser
house sparrow
lesser scaup
longtail duck
mourning dove
mute swan
red-breasted merganser
red-necked grebe
red-tailed hawk
shoveler ducks
trumpeter swan
white-breasted nuthatch
white-winged scoter
winter wren

Highlights include the (80+) shoveler ducks feeding, which meant they were going round in circles on the surface in small—sometimes single pair—groups with their heads mostly under water, all in bright fresh plummage; the probable bald eagle, flying low over the lake near the visual horizon; the really excellent, yes, I will sit on a bare trunk in sunshine view of the winter wren; the 1000+ greater scaup rafting together; the kestrel eating a vole.

There was much lamentation from the more experienced TOC members, including the trip leader, Dave Milsom, about how the long stretch of clement weather in November had prevented the traditional concentrations of interesting birds inshore.  For all of that, I thought Dave did a fine job leading the trip and rather enjoyed the whole thing.  I should have listened to my hind-brain and taken the scope instead of the large binoculars; it would have been more useful for the seriously offshore birds, of which there were a large number. (The large bins are Pentax 20x60 PCF WP IIs.  They're excellent for duck in the summer, but the focus mechanism really doesn't like being cooled below freezing.  I should probably check how the scope reacts to that, too, before I lug it on one of the winter bird walks...)

Mammals included a coyote (doing a very good "I'm somebody's dog, really, look, they're just back there" immitation as it trotted along the path), two mink, and two muskrats.

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