Friday, April 30, 2010

Birds everywhere!

It was a great day for migration today. Southerly winds brought lots of birds to the point and right from sun up there was a continual stream of songbirds passing overhead, soon joined by a continual stream of hawks. No less than thirteen Harriers passed the shack in the first hour alone! It's fascinating to watch these "Hen Harriers" as we call them, crossing the lake without hesitating like so many birds do. They just head out there without even gaining any height, and they look as though they're hunting out over the waves, which i don't think they are! You can see them a long way out there and they can catch you unawares at times! But as the waterbird passage shifted up a gear that was abandoned, and while the loons were modest in number (70), the Red Necked Grebes had their busiest day for well over a week (63). Red Throated Loons went through from time to time (10+), and interestingly the passage continued into the afternoon instead of tailing off - well we are getting towards the peak dates i guess.
Two different people asked me today how to separate them from Commons. It's a fair question, and one which i've been asked a lot in regard to various species while working in the visitor centre of a nature reserve. The most honest answer is, "jizz" - which is a combination of subtle things which comes through familiarity with the subject. You know how you can pick out someone you know really well in a crowd, even a long way off? Or how you can identify a Robin from a brief view at the end of the garden on a dark winter day, when it's snowing early morning? That's jizz. It comes through spending time observing a subject. So the best way to learn how to separate Common and Red Throateds is to spend time observing them whenever you can, there really is no shortcut!
6 White Winged Scoter were the highest day count so far, one Horned Grebe flew in and landed and it was great to see a Woodcock fly in off the lake, and straight past the shack. My first ever.

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