Saturday, February 3, 2024

16,138 birds seen during 2024 Region 7 Waterfowl Count

Tufted ducks

We just had our sixth January thaw since winter began in December and the driveway is bare again. The turkeys were picking grit from it to break down the corn in their crops. There have been from nine to thirty-three [turkeys] here daily at the feeders which have been spooked by hikers or skiers on the trail out back a few times. There were twenty-three here this morning [Jan. 31] and after they went down the ski trail, they got into quite a squabble. Some of the males must have been showing dominance, and by the sounds coming from there…feathers were flying.

The little Carolina Wren has been holding his own on the suet cakes. Yesterday, a Blue Jay thought it was king on the suet cake and a Hairy Woodpecker landed there all puffed up with wings spread and the Jay decided that bill was bigger than his and flew off. I got some suet from DiOrio’s Supermarket the other day and everybody has been loving it.

With the temperature above freezing all day today, I put up my mist net and opened both Potter traps. I had caught twenty Blue Jays during the week in the Potter traps and one Black-Capped Chickadee. I didn’t have the net up for five minutes [and] I started catching Chickadees, mostly unbanded ones. In an hour, I caught ten new birds and five that were previously banded. I also caught a banded Blue Jay and a banded female Downy Woodpecker that I had banded last spring.

Barrow's and common goldeneyes

Barrow’s and Common Goldeneyes. Photo by Ellie George.

One Chickadee got out of the holding bag in my office and flew from deer horn to deer horn until I caught it in my butterfly net. Luckily, I had the door shut tight, and it didn’t get into the big part of the house. That has never happened in over sixteen years banding here. I would need a real long handle net if that happened with our high ceilings.

The final figures are in for the Region 7 Waterfowl Count and with all the open water during the count, I think it was remarkably high. The coordinators, Ellie George and Stacy Robinson, did an excellent job getting many volunteers together to cover many areas during the count as well as doing count areas themselves. [The] areas covered were Lake Champlain, Schroon Lake, Tupper Lake, Long Lake, Raquette Lake, Newcomb, Inlet, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, and any open pond in between [those areas.]

Volunteer counters were Jeff Biby, Glen and Malina Chapman, Joan Collins, Eric Damours, Ellie George, Judy and Steve Heintz, Bill Krueger, Gary Lee, Nicolas Main, Brian McAllister, Jim Otto, Stacy and Mark Robinson, Derek Rogers, Janet Stein, Connor Vara and Mike and Wanda Moccio.

Species count: Snow Geese 1,146, Canada Geese 2,012, Gadwall 4, American Widgeon 1, American Black Duck 185, Mallard 1,891, Mallard x Black 3, Northern Pintail 7, Redhead 5, Ring-necked Duck 40, Tufted Duck 1, Greater Scaup 1,960, Lesser Scaup 4,449, Not to Species 567, Harlequin 1, Long-Tailed Duck 6, Bufflehead 65, Common Goldeneye 2,845, Barrow’s Goldeneye 2, Hooded Merganser 34, Common Merganser 839, Red-Breasted Merganser 30, Common Loon 21, Horned Grebe 23, American Coot 1, and unidentified 1…for a total of 16,138 birds seen.

While I was doing the count with Mike Peterson (and then compiling and counting for several years,) the most Snow Geese I can remember was four that I saw on Willsboro Point during one count. The same goes for Canada Geese, which just shows that with the warmer temperatures many birds (including Loons) are sticking around later in the season, if not all winter long, if there is open water.

I did want to comment on a couple movies we’ve seen in the last couple weekends. The Boys in the Boat is a great film that holds you right to the end. I even read the book after seeing the movie this week. [It is a] terrific book which is [available] at the Old Forge Library. The other film we saw last weekend is The Color Purple, [which is] more of a musical than the first one, but still gets the point across and [is] a great movie. Both [films] were playing in Old Forge [at The Strand Theatre].

Back to winter for another week…and then what…,but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Tufted duck, Westport. Photo by Ellie George.

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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."

3 Responses

  1. David Gibson says:

    Many thanks for all your waterfowl and turkey news,,,and for your film review, Gary.
    We’ve had Carolina wren get in our house, so thanks for the butterfly net advice. Spkeaking of so much open water, yesteday, Feb 3, here in Saratoga County I observed an osprey flying south, Adirondack lakes having finally frozen.

  2. terry says:

    Here in Missouri we recently had a bald eagle shot near me and also the lead investigators home. Someone has also been shotting livestock. Unknown if the two events are related.
    I did see a flock of varying species of finches. Purple, red, red poles. They must be going north. I have not seen many flocks of geese a few small flocks of snow geese heading north. It is very temperate. I do wonder what effect the Canadian wild fires may have had on bird populations? Any? Some? Zero? Before the fires last year huge flocks of ducks were witnessed on some of the Great Lakes.

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