What a day on the water!
From the first inklings of light until the last few seconds of the 8 hour survey period, I had plenty of birds to pick through. The waterbird activity was frantic for the first 2.5 hrs with over 100 loons and close to 1000 different individual ducks. Large flocks of scaup, redhead, wigeon, mallard, teal, and merganser all utilized the strong West winds. It was a great crash course for me in waterbird identification as I only had a few seconds with a flock before I had to move on and count the next one flying past. It was really fun to watch and exceptionally mesmerizing. There were also a handful of red-necked grebes, horned grebes, common goldeneye, white-winged scoter, and red-throated loon seen during the day.
While most of the large flocks were very distant, today also brought in multiple groups within naked-eye range. This is a real treat in the waterbird world, and allowed for some much appreciated views of the migrating birds. Although many of the distant flocks were left identified as “aythya sp.”, there were over 120 greater scaup, 100 redhead, and 3 lesser scaup. These species are very reminiscent of one another in distant flocks, but when just close enough, or seen at the right angle, can be confidently separated.
No birds really rested on the water today other than some horned and red-necked grebes. The tall waves likely blocked my view of many birds that may have been out there anyway, but it is fun to watch the tiny grebe heads bob up and down in the swells.
It really feels like fall migration!