My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Lake and River Birding

Published October 05, 2013
Tags: Life List Happenings, Brant, Canada Goose, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, American Black Duck, White-winged Scoter, Northern Pintail, Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Black-backed Gull, Northern Harrier, Belted Kingfisher, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron

I've been enjoying a new form of birding of late: birding along the Niagara River and, like today, sitting by the lake with my scope and watching what flies or swims by. It's been a whole different approach and it's been giving me an opportunity to see more water fowl.

As a matter of fact, I saw my first Brant today - and not just my first Brant, but my 382nd Brant! Great numbers were migrating past the place on Lake Ontario from where we were watching. At first, I thought they were geese, but Doug told me that they were a life bird for me and had me look closer and work hard to figure out what they were.  It took a little while, but with a little coaching and his field guide, I eventually figured out that I could finally add Brant to my life list!

image of Brant

I wasn't all that far off when guessing a goose (I was hoping for Cackling Goose!), because they are also known as the "Brent Goose" (not a typo).  It is, in essence, a goose and has the shortest tail of all the geese.

An interesting fact about the Brant is that they have a well developed salt gland that allows them to drink salt water!

Birding along a lake or river is pretty interesting and you just never know what will fly or swim by.  We had several species of ducks fly by, including Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Mallards, American Black Ducks, Common Mergansers, 1 White-winged Scoter, Northern Pintail, and even 3 Common Loons. Quite a few Ring-billed Gulls and Herring Gulls came by, along with a few Great Black-backed Gulls and many Double-crested Cormorants.  We had an Osprey fly over too.

A little later, out at Ring-necked Marsh in Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, we ran into Willie D'Anna and Rick Thomas who told us of a wonderful sighting they had today: a Gannet! They, too, had been river watching and had great and close views of that fabulous bird!

There were at least 8 Bald Eagles out in the marsh that we found today, not quite the 12 that were reported earlier this week. Most of the eagles we saw were young, immature birds.  Other than a Northern Harrier, 2 Belted Kingfishers, 3 Great Egrets, and 4 Great Herons, there wasn't much else to report at that location.  All in all, though, it was a great and diverse day of birding!
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Brant - a life bird
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Seeing such large numbers of these guys was amazing!
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Great Black-backed Gull (Wrights Beach in Dunkirk, earlier this week)
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Younger (on left) and adult Great Black-backed Gulls. It's VERY difficult ID'ing the different year gulls- especially between the Greater Black-backs and the Herrings and Lesser Black-backs!
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Hooded Merganser
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Double-crested Cormorant - a digiscoping experiment
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Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Harris Hill SP earlier this week)
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Blue-headed Vireo (Harris Hill SP earlier this week)
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It was nice to see this Monarch catepillar munching on some milkweed leaves. (Harris Hill SP earlier this week)
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Wooly Bear! (Harris Hill SP earlier this week)
Reply from: Lynn on 10/6/2013 8:35 AM
 Sounds like a successful day. I love that Doug makes you figure it out rather than just id'ing the bird for guy. You are getting very skillful with identifying the birds and capturing their pictures. Very nice!