Buchanan on Oct 31
I returned to Buchanan Lake this morning intent on relocating the immature
brown gull(s) that have been frequenting the lake. Over the past couple of
days, I've poured over bird books and surfed the internet looking for clues to
separate immature large billed gulls. Gullible guller that I am, I fooled myself
into believing I had a chance (slim, but a chance) of making an ID if the
gulls were close enough to the Greenway path.
As usual, birding proved to be a version of the age old three shell game. On
the lake today were two white gulls (didn't spend any time studying those)
and one brown one. Initially, I stuck with the game plan and concentrated on
the brown one but I soon decided that I was too far away to be effective.
Although they were spaced 10 to 20 yards apart, it did appear that they were all
the same size.
A tight raft of 32 resting Bufflehead (18 males) made for a nice diversion.
That may be largest flock of that species I have observed in the valley. A
single male Ring-necked Duck swam over for a closer look. Not recognizing
anyone in the raft, he proceeded south appearing a little lonely.
Several flocks of Canada Geese dropped in to join the 25+ that were present
upon my arrival to push the total number over one hundred. Scanned them but
did not relocate the Greater White-fronted Goose of yesterday.
The three resident Trumpeter Swans were at the south end of the lake. A lady
armed with a small camera (digital?) but obviously large connections drove
towards them on the lake's perimeter road. They reacted by starting towards the
middle of the lake...the first time I have seen them venture more that 20
yards from the shore. Earlier, while preening, they stretched their wings but I
was unable to detect any clipping. The flight feathers appeared intact.
Anyone know how "owned" birds are rendered flightless? The other day the three
made short runs flapping their wings but settled down quickly.
As the gulls had drifted closer, I decided to switch strategy and concentrate
on the adults. I was able to detect a red gonydeal spot that coulda, kinda,
maybe had a band of black towards the tip end. My patience wore thin waiting
for one of them to open an eye wide but they persisted in squinting/sleeping
as the sun was shinning on them.
I finally abandoned the effort and concluded that they were California Gulls.
The sun may have blunted all chance of determining eye color but the wind
was sharp enough to dull any prolonged interest in gulls. I was wearing a
fingerless glove...I feared that I was in danger of getting a hand to match.
I did check on the Sparrow Patch at the Arboretum. Fox Sparrow was the catch
of the day there. Also two Spotted Towhees, three Golden-crowned Sparrows,
two Song Sparrows and the usual White-crowned Sparrows, Juncos, Quail and stray
Black-capped Chickadee. Not much seed left to forage on. The group flushed
very easily...They seemed pretty spooky but then I guess it is Halloween after
all. I promised the guys Denny would be by later with the treats! Hope that
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