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Red-throated Loon in Dunkirk and White-throated Sparrows Return

Published April 18, 2013
Tags: General Observations, White-throated Sparrow, Red-throated Loon, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Double-crested Cormorant, Ruddy Duck, American Coot, Caspian Tern, Bonaparte Gull, Red-breasted Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Swamp Sparrow

A Red-throated Loon has been seen for the past few days down in the Dunkirk Harbor, offering nice close-ups. Remembering this beautiful bird from last year at Sinking Ponds, I decided to take the drive down to the harbor to see it. It was nearly dinner time and quite late in the day - but there was still plenty of daylight left.

Before getting on the Thruway, I thought I'd stop in and take a quick peek at Momma Great Horned Owl and her 2 owlets. They are doing very well - and this time, I got to see BOTH youngsters. What a treat!

When I got to Dunkirk, the loon was present and was indeed, nice and close. I was able to get some good photos of this beauty. For the camera buffs out there, I ended up replacing my Canon 400mm lens with a Sigma 500mm. It's not my "ultimate lens", but I think this will work out very nicely with the faster speed, auto focus, and image stabilization.  The clarity is very nice too.  Hopefully, I'll be happy for a long time now! One can hope!

After enjoying watching the loon in the harbor for awhile, I turned my attention to the swallows flying overhead and the gulls. I didn't realize Bonaparte Gulls donned a black hood in the spring. And when I looked closely at the swallows, they weren't the Tree or Barn Swallows I assumed, but they turned out to be Northern Rough-winged Swallows, a lifer! And gosh, are they FAST!!!  I scanned hard for a tern that wasn't a Caspian, but no luck there - only Caspians that I could ID with any certainty.

Next, I went over to nearby Point Gratiot.  It was my first time there and I was hoping to find some of the newly arrived warblers that have been reported: Black-throated Green, Palm, and Pine.  I didn't have any luck with the warblers, but I saw many Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 2 Eastern Phoebes, 1 Song Sparrow, 1 White-throated Sparrow, and 2 Northern Flickers. I'm quite sure I saw a thrush, probably a Hermit Thrush, but I couldn't be certain. By this time, it was quite late, so perhaps it was a bad time of day - or I was in the wrong area of the park for the warblers.

Since it was evening by now, I thought I might try again for my current nemesis bird, the American Woodcock.  I stopped by a few farmer's fields on my way home, including the Mill Road overlook, and finally ended up over at Sinking Ponds. I thought the field areas near the pond might offer my nemesis. Unfortunately, I didn't see nor hear the woodcock, but I did see my FOY Swamp Sparrow, a Pied-billed Grebe, and 5 Hooded Mergansers among the usual Mallards and Canada Geese.

Oh, and in the morning, I found my FOY White-throated Sparrow under the feeders. That was a nice treat. I love those guys!
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Red-throated Loon
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Red-throated Loon
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Red-throated Loon
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Bonaparte Gull
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Red-breasted Mergansers
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Caspian Tern
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Momma Great Horned Owl and both babies
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Baby looks like s/he's laughing!
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This morning's treat: a White-throated Sparrow
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White-throated Sparrow