Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yeah, I think they call this WINTER

A day off and fingers that are not frozen has given me a chance to report on a few of the birds that have graced the point lately.  While the overall numbers have been very good for this time of year that is mostly due to a surge of birds on the 5th which accounted for 5578 of the 6628 total birds seen since November 3rd.  Of course just seeing more than 100 birds in day is something to be thankful for in November so there's no complaining here (ok, well at least not right now).  The weather, well that is a totally different story and I reserve the right to complain any day where the temperature never tops 25 degrees and the windchill fluctuates between -5 and 0, like it did on the 5th.  The forecast for the upcoming week is for better weather (did I actually hear 50! degrees on the news this evening?) and sun, of course that will also lead to poor bird movement but at this point I'm fine with just being comfortable.

What I term "Winter Ducks" typically involve those species that I don't think of arriving in any numbers where I grew up (just north of St. Louis, MO) until the weather turns cold and are often those species most likely to remain through the winter while many other species move south once the lakes and rivers begin to freeze.  So it is no surprise that they are now the most common species each day by a large margin and should remain so through the final week plus of the season.  On the 5th there was a very strong movement of these species, the largest single day of the year in fact, which was comprised mainly of Long-tailed Ducks (3948), Bufflehead (568), Red-breasted Merganser (498), and Common Goldeneye (451) which were accompanied by the first flight of Hooded Mergansers this year with 11 being noted in the first two hours after sunrise.  The other days this week have seen much smaller, but steady, numbers with daily averages of 145 Long-tailed Ducks, 14 Buffleheads, 62 Common Goldeneyes, and 90 Red-breasted Mergansers.

In other waterbird news dabbling ducks and Aythya ducks have been virtually non-existent lately with very small numbers of Mallards and American Black Ducks still seen most days and up to a few dozen scaup seen daily though normally its only 5-15.  Scoter numbers have also fallen off drastically with White-wingeds averaging about 12 per day while a single Surf was seen on the 4th and a few Blacks were noted on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  The loon numbers remain about the same with the average daily count for Common and Red-throateds being 15 and 1 respectively while grebe numbers have dropped to 12 for Red-necked and 2 for Horned.

Shorebirds still show up on occasion this time of year with a single Dunlin on the 5th and two Sanderlings on the 6th being the arrivals in recent days.  Gulls have continued in moderate diversity with single Black-legged Kittiwakes noted on the 3rd and 6th, both individuals were young birds, and the first Bonaparte's Gull in some time was found on the 3rd riding the waves on the point.  Among the large white-headed gull clan there was a juvenile Thayer's Gull on the 6th and two Great Black-backed Gulls, a 1st winter bird on the 3rd and an adult on the 6th.

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