Waterbird Count, April 3

Although the weather was not as pleasant as the previous day, the bird diversity and activity were both very high.  To start the day off, a pair of Trumpeter Swans made their way down to the lake from the southeast and flew towards the north end of the bridge.  Bryant and I also had the good fortune to see a Merlin catch an American Robin mid-flight, close to shore, watch it land on the gravel only a few yards from the gazebo, and then fly off with its prize.  At about the same time, there was also an adult male Northern Harrier harassing some of the Red-breasted Mergansers to the west.  During the second hour, a pair of Hooded Mergansers sneaked into the crowd of Red-breasted Mergansers, while to the northwest, the first adult Great Black-backed Gull of this season was seen flying west.  Though overcast all day, the temperature remained in the low to mid-40’s, and the wind was fairly calm until about midday- at which point it started to drizzle.  At about 1:00 PM is when the drizzle became stronger, and this was also about the time there was a Cackling Goose seen flying east with four Canada Geese.  This was one of the few cases I’ve had where the birds remained in a near-constant position where I could compare and contrast the two with high accuracy.  The Cackling Goose was noticeably smaller, with a disproportionately smaller head and neck, and flying with shallower, more rapid wing beats.  I was worried the increase in rainfall and wind speed would slow down migration movement, but only when the rain was falling hardest did I see a flock of Snow Geese heading northwest at approximately 2:00 PM.  One final thing worth noting was that the first Great Blue Heron of this season was seen flying east at approximately 12:00 PM.  Hopefully as the rains recede, more birds will be on the move again, and there will be more surprises yet to come.

Snow Goose – 26
Cackling Goose – 1
Canada Goose – 133
Trumpeter Swan – 2
Mallard – 14
Redhead – 19
Aythya sp. – 4
White-winged Scoter – 9
Long-tailed Duck – 1
Common Goldeneye – 22
Hooded Merganser – 2
Common Merganser – 29
Red-breasted Merganser – 424
duck sp. – 56
Great Black-backed Gull – 1

Other Species:
Great Blue Heron – 1
Northern Harrier – 1
Bald Eagle – 9
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Killdeer – 1
Merlin – 1