Buchanan Lake as a Night Roost - Jan 1 and the Mark of Zorro at Poppoff
On Sunday I paid another visit to Buchanan Lake to assess waterfowl present
a half hour prior to sunset compared to a half hour after sunset.
On the lake:
3:45 - 40 Common Goldeneye, 5 Lesser Scaup
4:25 (official sunset) - 30 Canada Geese, 60 Common Goldeneye, 3 Bufflehead,
2 Hooded Mergansers
4:40 - 30 Canada Geese, 60 Common Goldeneye, 20 Bufflehead, 5 Hooded
Mergansers, 15+ Lesser Scaup, 2 American Coot, 2 Wood Ducks
4:45 - 30+ Canada Geese, 60+ Common Goldeneye, 20+ Bufflehead, 20+ Hooded
Mergansers, 30+ larger duck shapes
The raft formed towards the northwest corner of the lake close to the
freeway. The larger ducks (behind the smaller divers) were barely visible against
the dark shore. The distance to the raft (and cataracts in aging eyes)
didn't help much for identifying the waterfowl. While Ring-necked Ducks are more
likely on Buchanan than scaup, there was little contrast between the backs
and sides and I didn't see any bright white spurs at the shoulder.
The marsh just north of the lake has thawed and as I was walking back to the
parking lot, ducks, in groups of two to eight, were corkscrewing into the
marsh from all directions. Mallard quacks and Wood Duck whistles sounded in
the misty-fog that was settling. A flock of 60 Canada Geese and two smaller
flocks of 30 honked their way onto Buchanan.
Just before sunset, there were seven Bald Eagles perched in the cottonwoods
along the Yakima River within 50 yards of one and another.
Earlier, I had stopped at the Poppoff Sparrow Patch South to jump start my
2006 year list. A Fox Sparrow with the four Zonto Zorro species didn't
disappoint. In fact, there may have been a first winter Harris's Sparrow in
addition to the adult that has been fairly regular at the location. I had two
quick looks at a wet bird with a large bright bill that didn't fit into the mold
of a White-crowned Sparrow.
I started to the Poppoff Trail well after noon. Combining the birds seen en
route and at the two Greenway stops, I totaled 45 species for the afternoon.
That beats the species total for both of the CBC routes I birdied from dark
to dark a couple weeks ago. Judge for yourself if the Greenway is a worthy
location for a beginner to bird watch.
And ye olde county listers, watch for a second Harris's at Poppoff as you
kick off the new year's list.
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