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Dunkirk Harbor - a Mixed Bag

Published February 16, 2013
Tags: Life List Happenings, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Great-Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Common Merganser, Canvas Back, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Bonaparte Gull, Red-tailed Hawk, Greater White-fronted Goose

Today, I took a quick drive down to Dunkirk Harbor to see if I could find the 4 Greater White-fronted Geese that have been seen there. It started out as a beautiful, sunny day and I spotted 7 Red-tailed Hawks along the drive.

After I found the harbor, I found a very unusual goose in amongst the Canadian Geese. I was certain it was one of the Greater White-fronteds. Excited, I took a bunch of photos of the big guy.  Later, I found out I was wrong again! The guy (or girl) I saw was a domestic Graylag Goose. Darn!

I did pick up a lifer, though: an American Coot.  There were quite a few in the harbor, as a matter of fact. Again, I wondered how I ever missed this guy before. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see the large, lobed, green feet of the coot. Did you know that the American Coot is more closely related to the Sandhill Crane than to a duck?!  I found that fact very interesting!  He's labeled a "clumsy flier" too, requiring long take-offs to get airborne.

I also got to see at least 3 Great Blue Herons and - wow, at LEAST 200 Double-crested Cormorants!  They were lined up all along the piers and in the water.  That was an amazing sight to me as I've only seen 1 individual on 2 separate occasions at Sinking Ponds in East Aurora (my first sighting of a DCCO). So, this was quite a spectacle to me!

Gulls, of course, were everywhere.  Being a novice at gull identification, I couldn't pick out too many different species, but I could see Bonapartes, Herrings, and Greater Black-backed.  I don't know how birders can possibly estimate such large numbers of gulls for their counts. There must be a science behind this that I don't know yet!

Speaking of counts, I hope everyone is participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend.  I just finished Day #3 for me. I'll make a post of my counts in a day or 2. It's easy and  fun - but more importantly, it helps scientists around the world ascertain many things about our changing global climate and how birds are coping and adapting, or dwindling. Your input is important!

By the time I left Dunkirk Harbor, snow was flying and it was icy cold. So, from my cute, little yard birds to the several hawks, cormorants, herons, American Coots, and gulls - and from sun to snow - LOTS of snow - it was quite the mixed bag today!
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A domestic Graylag Goose to the left of a Canada Goose
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He was rather neat looking, even if he wasn't my target bird!
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An American Coot - my lifer!
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Pied-biled Grebe - note the ring aorund its beak - that indicates he's in breeding plumage.
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Gulls, gulls, everywhere!
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Herring gull
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Double-crested Cormorant
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Double-crested Cormorant
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There were at least 200 Double-crested Cormorants
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Mergansers, Canvasbacks, and more were seen as well!
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Great Blue Heron
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Great Blue Heron