Floodgates

A phenomenal day on the lake. The strong NNE winds opened up a major floodgate for waterfowl, with the first major movement of diving ducks. With the unusual SW winds the past several weeks, birds have been bottled up to the north and needed today’s major push of winds. Two count locations today were run from dawn till 11 a.m. (Mentor count till about noon). Jerry Talkington, Ray Hannikman, and Emil Bacik did a Mentor count and Helen Taft, Larry Richardson and myself counted from Rocky River Park (Rocky River) from dawn till 11 a.m.
THE KEY TO LAKEWATCHING: watch the weather forecast closely. Any winds with a NORTH component are excellent, particularly NNW accompanied by a cold front. ***Waterbird movement begins at dawn and typically reaches a peak around 9:30 a.m. almost like clockwork. Around 11 a.m. the action typically slows quite noticeably.*** Many times during good lakewatch days, folks will show up around 11 a.m. only to hear “you should have been here earlier.” Additionally, keep in mind that these birds are on the move, pushing east and/or west, quickly. Scopes are very, very helpful if not necessary for following birds at a distance.

COUNT TOTALS FROM ROCKY RIVER PARK:
RED-THROATED LOON (1), Common Loon (400), RED-NECKED GREBE (1), Horned Grebe (600), Pied-billed Grebe (1), Canada Goose (6), SNOW GOOSE (2 blue morph), Mallard (250), American Black Duck (45), Gadwall (38), Northern Pintail (12), American Wigeon (13), Green-winged Teal (425), Canvasback (65), Greater Scaup (150+), Lesser Scaup (2000), LONG-TAILED DUCK (1), Surf Scoter (44), Black Scoter (52), White-winged Scoter (81), Common Goldeneye (14), Bufflehead (60), Hooded Merganser (4), Common Merganser (85), Red-breasted Merganser (2,800), Dunlin (850), RED KNOT (1), Sanderling (40), POMARINE JAEGER (1), Bonaparte’s Gull (2,500), Ring-billed Gull (3,000), Herring Gull (600), Golden-crowned Kinglet (1 came off the lake at dawn), American Pipit (1), Snow Bunting (2). UNIDENTIFIED WATERFOWL (at horizon to 2 miles out): 10,500 individuals.

COUNT TOTALS FROM MENTOR:
Common Loon (30), Horned Grebe (40), Tundra Swan (9), BRANT (14), LONG-TAILED DUCK (5), HARLEQUIN DUCK (2), Surf Scoter (37), Black Scoter (22), WHITE-WINGED SCOTER (205), Common Goldeneye (45), Bufflehead (75), Northern Shoveler (3), Northern Pintail (15), American Wigeon (25), Green-winged Teal (42), American Black Ducks & Mallards (abundant), Canvasback (25), Redhead (15), Gadwall (60), Lesser & Greater Scaup (2,000), Common & Red-breasted Mergansers (MANY), Hooded Merganser (1), RED PHALAROPE (1 at count, 2 observed by Emil Bacik at Headlands lighthouse), Snow Bunting (120).

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One thought on “Floodgates

  1. Great report…Incredible totals and variety! I went out to the park this afternoon and I’m sad to say that I only saw a fraction of those species, and in nowhere near the numbers you are reporting. I had quite a few Red-breasted mergansers, but no more than perhaps 100 total in various small flocks. Some of these flocks also had a few Green-winged teal in with them as well. I had one mixed flock of 15 Mallards, 4 Gadwall, and a single Black duck. No more than 3 Horned grebe made themselves known to me. I got a trio of Greater Scaup, a drake and two hen Bufflehead, and a lone cormorant.
    I did get some nice photos of an adult Bald eagle that passed over, and I also saw a couple Bonaparte’s, Ring billed’s and Herring gulls, but no flocking anywhere. A single Song sparrow, a female Cardinal, one Snow bunting and a handful of Juncos rounded out the visit.
    The wind was brisk, but the sun was shining…I only wish I’d brought my gloves!

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