Saturday, January 28, 2023

Spring-Like Weather Confuses Birds, 2023 Duck Count Results

Ravens on a trail cam

The inch of snow we got here was just about enough to cover the ground. With all the rain we had before the snow, it sure made for an icy mix out in the woods to walk on. I found out the hard way, as I was out back on the ski trail cutting beech stubs that I left last winter…cutting them in deep snow. While walking back in, I took a slip down a little hill and rolled over my right ankle, which hurt pretty bad. I [was] a mile from the house and I said to myself, “This is going to be a long mile walk.” I got to the house just before Karen came home. We put ice on it until I went to bed, and it only swelled a little…but still not good.

Karen got [me] an appointment the next day to see Doctor Socash and get it x-rayed. [Nothing was] broken, but [it is] a bad sprain, so it has been getting the cold and hot treatment since [that day] with an ACE bandage and feeling better. [I’m] not quite ready for a ski trip, but not in need of crutches…which would have put a crimp in what little winter we have. California is getting a chance to dry out this week while much rain is coming into the Gulf Coast where they don’t need any rain. We are in a snow drought with some expected this week, but not any big storms.


It was just snowing on the Buffalo Bills which didn’t help them on their field, as they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals. It looked like wet snow [was] falling (almost rain) which didn’t cover the field as I have seen in the past. [However, it would] not [be] a good trip home for lots of fans, whichever way they had to go. With all the NFL and college football playoffs going on and the World Cup Soccer matches (which ended on December 18 with a shootout win by Argentina over France) many may have missed the Syracuse Orangemen’s Soccer National Championship win in North Carolina on December 12. They beat Indiana in their first trip to the finals, tied 2 – 2 at the end of the game, [and] they played two overtimes with no scores.


Adele’s amaryllis. Photo by Gary Lee.

Then in a shootout they won 7 – 6 to take the NCAA Soccer Championship. Since I don’t get Syracuse news on our TV and never saw anything on the internet, I wouldn’t have known until my son, Mitch, told me a week ago. I looked it up online and saw lots of the game, close plays, and scoring. Then [I] watched the shootout where the Syracuse goalie stopped the seventh sudden death penalty kick by Indiana, and then the Syracuse Team Captain scored the winning goal. Nice to see this (even if not in real time) and a great win for the Syracuse program.


The 2023 Winter World University Games in Lake Placid wind up today [January 23] with the final ice hockey game, Canada winning 7-2 over the US team. There have been 43 nations participating, with 1,443 athletes participating (832 men and 611 women) in 85 different events in 12 different sports. The weather certainly didn’t cooperate before the games began or during the games with the lack of snow and warmer weather during the games. [However,] the events went on, with a few cancellations to another day. It takes a lot of volunteer help to put on such an event like this as well as the staff at the venues to make ice and snow for these events to happen. Hats off to all of you for showing to the world again what a gem the North Country of New York State really is.


Listening to my birds this last week you would think spring had sprung…and to look around you might even think that yourself. The White-Breasted Nuthatches were doing their mating wood-wood calls and the Black-Capped Chickadees were doing their mating phoebe calls. You could watch them around the feeders almost to the point of defending territories, as chases went on all the time defending food stations. I tried to tell them there was still more winter to come, but they kept right on calling. I did have ten Ravens on the carcass on the dam a couple mornings, and there were several chases going on around there.


These birds will be on their nests late next month and early March. Their young are usually born before May 1st and out of the nests before Memorial Day. Some more Christmas flowers are blooming locally. Adele Murdock [Burnett’s] amaryllis wins the prize, with one three feet tall and triple blooms on both stems. My Christmas cactus is going to be a Valentine bloomer. I still have two White-Throated Sparrows catching snacks under the suet cakes and every time I report them to e-bird they question my report…so I send them a picture.


I got the results of the Region 7 Essex, Franklin, Clinton, and Hamilton Counties’ 2023 Duck Count from Ellie George-compiler. A total of 8,090 waterfowl compared to last year’s 3,670 and 26 species compared to last year’s 20. Eleven Bald Eagles and several other birds were seen during the count. Uncommon waterfowl seen were snow geese, redheads, canvasbacks, ruddy ducks, gadwalls, black scoter, wigeon, pintail, and red-breasted mergansers.


There were fifteen observers making several stops in different places in the region. Total by species; Snow Geese-7, Canada Geese-951, Gadwall-6, American Wigeon-1, American Black Duck-120, Mallard-1,896, MallardxBlack-2, Northern Pintail-1, Canvasback-4, Redhead-10, Ring-necked Duck-4, Tufted Duck-2, Tufted DuckxScaup sp., Greater Scaup- 2,416, Lesser Scaup-622, Black Scoter-1, Bufflehead- 284, Common Goldeneye-1,437, Common GoldeneyexBarrows-1, Barrows Goldeneye-2, Hooded Merganser- 74, Common Merganser- 222, Red-breasted Merganser- 5, Ruddy Duck-7, Common Loon-5, and Horned Grebe-9, for a total of 8,090.


Hope to get back on my skis this week with a little more snow coming, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: Raven conference on a trail cam. Photo provided by Gary Lee.

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

One Response

  1. Boreas says:


    Because I live nearby, I watch the shoreline almost daily between Ausable Point and Port Kent. I used to enjoy contributing to the Waterfowl Count on the Adirondack Coast between Rouses Point and Port Douglas, but in recent years someone else must be performing those duties because I have not been asked to participate. It is a fun activity on par with the Christmas Bird Count, becoming more important with changes in ice cover on Lake Champlain.

    This has been yet another strange year WRT weather and waterfowl mix. I didn’t see any Ringneck Ducks until a week or so ago until about 50 showed up. I haven’t seen any Swans for over a decade. I don’t notice Loons in winter much any more. Redheads, Widgeon, and Tufted Ducks are becoming more reliable. Obviously, ice cover on Champlain has much to do with this, but I am wondering what generalities you are noticing inland WRT species mix?

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