Author Archives: Aspen Ellis

Waterbird Count – 9 November

Crazy snow and wind today! I started the count at ten twenty once the snow stopped, and even without the busier hours this morning it was still a pretty active day for the count. Heaviest winds of the season (gusting over 35mph) were shaking my car on the beach and making for some pretty intense waves, but lots of goldeneyes on the move despite that.
White-winged Scoter – 15
Scoter sp. – 6
Long-tailed Duck – 16
Common Goldeneye – 72
Common Merganser – 9
Red-breasted Merganser – 1
Duck sp. – 33
Ring-billed Gull – 4
Herring Gull – 5
Other species:
Bald Eagle – 3
American Crow – 2

Waterbird Count – 8 November

Similar weather today to the last few days, but a bit more activity in terms of duck movement. It was mostly Mergansers and Goldeneye moving again, but the first Greater Scaup that I’ve had in a couple weeks flew by as well. My personal highlight for the day was watching two adult Bald Eagles tussle in mid-air as they passed through the straits, frequently doing complete somersaults in the air to bare their talons at each other.
Greater Scaup – 1
Surf Scoter – 7
White-winged Scoter – 7
Long-tailed Duck – 19
Common Goldeneye – 26
Common Merganser – 4
Red-breasted Merganser – 38
Loon sp. – 1
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Ring-billed Gull – 3
Herring Gull – 2
Other species:
Bald Eagle – 2
American Crow – 15

Waterbird Count – 7 November

The wind quieted down a bit since yesterday, but it was still pretty breezy out of the west today. It was another pretty quiet day for ducks despite that, and unfortunately the Harlequin didn’t make a reappearance.

Redhead – 5

White-winged Scoter – 36

scoter sp. – 8

Long-tailed Duck – 1

Bufflehead – 2

Common Goldeneye – 11

Common Merganser – 6

Red-breasted Merganser – 17

duck sp. – 13

Ring-billed Gull – 2

Herring Gull – 2

 

Other species:

Bald Eagle – 1

American Crow – 4

Waterbird Count – 6 November

Strong northwest winds today and colder temps than the last few days brought more activity through the straits today, but the primary species present was again Red-breasted Mergansers. After five days with no sign of the Harlequin, I was thinking that it had moved on, but I was pleased to see it land right out from the beach again this morning. It spent about an hour loafing on the water before flying off right as Carol showed up to see it. Glad to see that it’s still alive and well!
Mallard – 1
Redhead – 30
Harlequin Duck – 1
White-winged Scoter – 6
Long-tailed Duck – 11
Bufflehead – 3
Common Goldeneye – 18
Common Merganser – 7
Red-breasted Merganser – 17
duck sp. – 50
Horned Grebe – 1
Ring-billed Gull – 2
Herring Gull – 1
Other species:
Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 3
American Crow – 1

Waterbird Count – 5 November

Another rainy, foggy day today. It was pretty quiet again, with light south winds and low visibility throughout the count until it eventually got hazy enough in the afternoon that I called it a bit early. More stuff was moving today than yesterday, with several small groups of Buffleheads  and Common Goldeneye moving, and a larger flock of White-winged Scoters heading west. Bruce stopped by for a few hours, since it was too foggy for much to be happening over at the hawk watch. Looks as if the weather tomorrow might kick some ducks up, so we’ll see what happens! Hoping the last week of the count is a busy one.

 

Mallard – 2

White-winged Scoter – 21

Long-tailed Duck – 36

Bufflehead – 36

Common Goldeneye – 25

Common Merganser – 4

Red-breasted Merganser – 41

Common Loon – 1

Horned Grebe – 2

Double-crested Cormorant – 1

Ring-billed Gull – 2

Herring Gull – 1

 

Waterbird Count – 4 November

Heavy snow and visibility of about a quarter mile met me when I headed into McGulpin this morning, so the start of the count was delayed until the snow blew over at around eleven. Snow persisted on and off until around noon, when it eventually cleared up enough that I could see St Helena again, but the rest of the count was very slow as the snow turned into a steady drizzle. One flock of Redheads, and some Red-breasted Mergansers were about it for the afternoon.
Redhead – 25
White-winged Scoter – 4
Common Merganser – 2
Red-breasted Merganser – 37
Duck sp. – 73
Common Loon – 1
Horned Grebe – 1
Double-crested Cormorant – 1
Ring-billed Gull – 3
Herring Gull – 1
Other species:
Bald Eagle – 1
Black-capped Chickadee – 5

Waterbird Count – 3 November

Much windier day today, blowing out of the northwest. Most of the bird activity today was Red-breasted Mergansers again and some smaller groups of Buffleheads and Goldeneye. No reappearance from the Harlequin, though the waves were rough enough that it may have gone unnoticed if it was farther out from shore.
Mallard – 1
White-winged Scoter – 8
Black Scoter – 2
Long-tailed Duck – 24
Bufflehead – 43
Common Goldeneye – 10
Common Merganser – 3
Red-breasted Merganser – 68
Merganser sp. – 20
Duck sp. – 67
Common Loon – 1
Loon sp. – 1
Horned Grebe – 2
Ring-billed Gull – 3
Herring Gull – 4
Other species:
Bald Eagle – 1
Common Raven – 1

Waterbird Count – 2 November

Surprisingly quiet day today at the waterbird count, given that the south winds of yesterday grew northerly in the night. Some Buffleheads and Long-tails were still on the move, and large numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers were loafing on the water throughout the day, but overall numbers of moving ducks were much lower than they were in yesterday’s calm south winds.
White-winged Scoter – 1
Long-tailed Duck – 28
Bufflehead – 28
Common Goldeneye – 3
Common Merganser – 9
Red-breasted Merganser – 42
Duck sp. – 64
Horned Grebe – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 1
Ring-billed Gull – 2
Herring Gull – 3
Other species:
Bald Eagle – 1
Sandhill Crane – 3
Blue Jay – 1
American Crow – 1
Black-capped Chickadee – 5

Waterbird Count – 1 November

Snowfall throughout the night last night welcomed us into November with a couple inches of wet snow clinging to everything when I started the count this morning. Light south winds meant that despite the colder temperatures it wasn’t too uncomfortable on the beach, which made it nice for the many visitors to the count today.

Pretty morning

Leonard, Bev and Jack, and Carol all stopped by to enjoy the Harlequin (who was back again today!), and the winter ducks that are coming through in good numbers now.

The Harlequin sat even closer to shore today, and the calm water made for nice views.

Buffleheads, Long-tails, and Goldeneyes were all around in good numbers again today. A flock of 50 Snow Geese flew south today as well, and interestingly ~40 of them were blue morph, which is the highest percentage of blue morphs I’ve ever seen in a flock.

More nice views

Lots of dead things on the beach today as well, two of which were fish – one was a fresh common carp that had washed up this morning, which proceeded to get demolished by Herring Gulls throughout the day. The other was a large salmon? But was much farther gone. There was also a dead White-winged Scoter washed up on the beach, which looked to be a few days old.

Herring Gull enjoying a tasty carp

Snow Goose – 50
Mute Swan – 2
Mallard – 1
Harlequin Duck – 1
Surf Scoter – 1
White-winged Scoter – 10
Scoter sp. – 5
Long-tailed Duck – 104
Bufflehead – 371
Common Goldeneye – 42
Common Merganser – 24
Red-breasted Merganser – 73
Merganser sp. – 3
Duck sp. – 217
Common Loon – 1
Horned Grebe – 4
Red-necked Grebe – 1
Ring-billed Gull – 4
Herring Gull – 3
Other species:
Bald Eagle – 3
Downy Woodpecker – 1
American Crow – 4

Waterbird Count – 30 & 31 October

The last two days have been similar in terms of bird activity and weather, aside from the small snowstorm that hit late this afternoon as I was finishing up the count. Strong WNW winds persisted throughout the count both today and yesterday, bringing with them good numbers of ducks. Goldeneye and Buffleheads moved through the straits in good numbers today, and large mixed flocks of ducks were headed west yesterday far out over the water. Long-tails are still moving in good numbers, and yesterday brought more loons that I’ve had in a while now.

 

Though the Harlequin didn’t show up yesterday, it was back this morning. It spent much of the count loafing on the water right out from the beach, and as far as I know was still in the area when I left today at 4:15.

 

30 October
White-winged Scoter – 38
Scoter sp. – 5
Long-tailed Duck – 214
Common Merganser – 48
Red-breasted Merganser – 32
Merganser sp. – 80
Duck sp. – 654
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 6
Loon sp. – 2
Double-crested Cormorant – 2
Bonaparte’s Gull – 1
Ring-billed Gull – 5
Other species:
Northern Harrier – 2
Bald Eagle – 2
American Crow – 56
Snow Bunting – 1
31 October
Mallard – 8
Aythya sp. – 25
Harlequin Duck – 1
White-winged Scoter – 13
Black Scoter – 1
Scoter sp. – 14
Long-tailed Duck – 20
Bufflehead – 85
Common Goldeneye – 45
Common Merganser – 30
Red-breasted Merganser – 19
Merganser sp. – 16
Duck sp. – 235
Red-throated Loon – 1
Common Loon – 1
Ring-billed Gull – 4
Herring Gull – 3
Other species:
Bald Eagle – 1
Common Raven – 1