With how the waterbird flight started out this morning, I wouldn't have believed you if you told me we'd end the day with 2000+ birds! Our first several hours were uneventful (we had rain and wind out of the east) but everything changed in the 6th hour. The winds suddenly shifted and started coming out of the north (and fairly strong, too). This recipe, when mixed with some nuts on the beach with scopes, cooked up a batch of "decentness" this afternoon. For example, the CANADA GEESE started pouring through in the 5th hour and before we knew it, we ended with 1100+ geese in less than 4 hours!
It's always a good idea to scan carefully through these goose flocks; you never know if maybe a little Ross's Goose or Brant might be tucked in with them. Take this normal-looking goose flock for example:
Everything looks normal to... wait... what is THAT thing?! Yeah, the tiny speck between the top 2nd and 3rd goose? Umm...
Completely dwarfed by the giant geese, it looks like a shorebird:
Sure enough, I'm pretty sure it's an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER that decided to utilize the wingtip vortices that the V-formation provides. How strange, none of us at the point remembered seeing anything quite like that before.
However, more than geese made the count interesting today; we had a good flight of several other species as well. For example, our best flight of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS for the fall happened today when 75 were tallied. Also, RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS had a solid day with 427.
What I WASN'T ready for was the very pronounced arrival of the harbinger of cold, November days; the LONG-TAILED DUCK. Out of nowhere, we were treated to 61 of them today (after not having any for weeks and never more than one).
It seems like every day that I make predictions like "Ahh, this looks like a good Pacific Loon day" or "where are the jaegers?". Most days it doesn't come true but today it did! The highlight was a breeding-plumaged PACIFIC LOON that flew by in the 7th hour. This is the third of the season so far; hopefully we can find another one or two. We also saw 17 RED-THROATED LOONS and 39 COMMON LOONS.
Another highlight was a distant JAEGER that flew by in the 7th hour.
The bird feeders behind the gift shop have become more active in recent days (and it's about time; I was starting to think of it as the official "nap zone" for weary birders). There have been WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, SONG SPARROWS, CHIPPING SPARROWS, and even a HOUSE SPARROW. It seems primed and ready for a Harris's Sparrow or something goofy to arrive. Today, there was this BLACKPOLL WARBLER foraging nearby:
Oh, and if you're still with me, the quiz bird in the blog post yesterday was indeed a MAGNOLIA WARBLER. Check your bird book and look at the undertail pattern; it's a VERY distinct fieldmark!
The forecast for the next week is filled with little icons showing rain, lightning and rain, rain and lightning, heavy rain, showers, etc. etc. In other words, be prepared for a wet next couple of days!