Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lake or ocean?

juvenile Thayer's Gull
The past few days have seen a myriad of different conditions from chilly (27 degrees) to warm (45 degrees), calm to windy, and sunny to drizzle.  Of course the lake still seems to be re-adjusting after last week's storm with the current shape of the point more like a pear rather than the previous scythe shape and it seems there are also still a few avian gems left out there on that huge expanse of water.

The clear highlight and the most frustrating bird of the Fall was seen on Sunday afternoon while I was at home enjoying the couch and a football game when an unknown alcid was spotted twice just offshore as it flew short distances through the waves never to be seen again.  Prevailing thought from those who saw it is that this bird was probably a DOVEKIE but unfortunately the observers could not pin it down for long enough to put a confirmed label on the bird.  Sometimes they just get away.

The overall waterfowl make-up has been similar each day though the actual numbers has fluctuated quite a lot.  The most unusual species were both noted yesterday morning when the Fall's first flock of Snow Geese (8 birds) passed just to the west of the point and another 2 Tundra/Trumpeter Swans were noted flying north across the lake.  Once again Long-tailed Duck has been the most common species with daily counts of 559, 1620, and 164 while Common Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser held onto the next two spots.  Smaller numbers of Mallard, White-winged (and a few Black) Scoter, Bufflehead, and scaup have also been noted daily along with a scattering of other species in ones and twos each day.

A few loons are still trickling through each day with average daily numbers of Common and Red-throated dropping to 10 and 1 respecitvely while grebe numbers have fallen to similar levels with 11 and 2 being the average numbers for Red-neckeds and Horneds over the past three days.

Shorebirds are still mostly non-existent but a Red Phalarope flying down the beach before momentarily dropping into the waves at the point's tip today was a clear highlight.  The only other species to be noted lately were two continuing Sanderlings seen yesterday.  On the gull front the diversity and numbers continue to improve (usually not a good sign for those who enjoy warmth) with different Thayer's Gulls appearing the past two days and a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull that continues around the point since late last week.  Also making another appearance on the point was a juvenile Sabine's Gull which showed up shortly after the phalarope around noon, this is the first sighting since October 22nd.

Other birds seen lately have included a good movement of 14 Rough-legged Hawks on the 2nd, the continuing Spotted Towhee through the evening of the 1st, and a much increased number of finches (including Pine Grosbeak and White-winged Crossbill) with large flocks redpolls arriving on the 1st that had at least 1 Hoary among them.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Ah, finch flocks! Suppose any will get farther south in the midwest this year?