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Too Many To Count

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  • Beth Hill
    There wasn t enough time to count every bird out on the water off the West Bank area tonight. It was curious how the raft of western grebe, eared grebe, other
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 4, 2013
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      There wasn't enough time to count every bird out on the water off the West Bank area tonight.  It was curious how the raft of western grebe, eared grebe, other grebe and ruddy duck slowly made their way upriver from last night to tonight.  Last night they were at the level of the water treatment plant and east of the big island, just after noon today they were above the big island and tonight they were up in the area of the new courthouse.  It was sunny and the light was MUCH better.  There wasn't enough time to count all the coots.  I did count over 180 western grebe.  It was so neat to hear so many making calls.  Even more amazing was the number of ruddy ducks - after 300 I was estimating them and came up with 800 in the area of the courthouse.  There were a few pied-billed and horned grebes among them and probably some of those that didn't look like any of the others might have been fall red-necked.  
      What else was out there?  Teal (at least green-winged), common merganser (over 100), wigeon (over 30), shovelers (at least 40), cormorant (90), bufflehead, lesser scaup, redhead, killdeer, belted kingfisher, gadwall, pelican, and surf scoter (3 - what a surprise).  I spotted the surf scoter not long before I ran into Scott Dean and some friends but couldn't relocate them.
      Finally, after sunset the starling/blackbird show was spectacular even though the numbers are decreasing - there may have been 8-10 thousand doing the "wave dance" tonight. 
      I really didn't expect to see the fall-out of grebes and ruddy ducks to stick around a second night - good weather, good eats I guess.
      Beth Hill
      Great Falls
    • bhha5762
      Thank you, Beth Hill, for this report of an amazing evening of counting countless birds! I was inspired by your mentioning of the wave dance of the
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 5, 2013
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        Thank you, Beth Hill, for this report of an amazing evening of counting countless birds!

        I was inspired by your mentioning of the "wave dance" of the "starling/blackbirds" enough that I grabbed a friend and we drove from Helena, hoping to spy the phenomenon along the West Bank in Great Falls.  We were not disappointed.  Wow!  What a sight!  My friend called it "Bird Fireworks".  And, in fact, she liked it better than the usual fireworks.  It was very impressive!

        As we watched I thought they were starlings.  Now that I'm viewing my photographs I see they have a lighter color and I'm wondering whether they are waxwings or what?

        I've place three images entitled, "Murmuration" in the ID Help file.  I'd love to know which species puts on such a display.

        Thank you, Beth Hill!  And thank you, Whomever, for help with ID.

        Janice Miller
        Helena

         



        ---In mob-montana@yahoogroups.com, <grizhill@...> wrote:

        There wasn't enough time to count every bird out on the water off the West Bank area tonight.  It was curious how the raft of western grebe, eared grebe, other grebe and ruddy duck slowly made their way upriver from last night to tonight.  Last night they were at the level of the water treatment plant and east of the big island, just after noon today they were above the big island and tonight they were up in the area of the new courthouse.  It was sunny and the light was MUCH better.  There wasn't enough time to count all the coots.  I did count over 180 western grebe.  It was so neat to hear so many making calls.  Even more amazing was the number of ruddy ducks - after 300 I was estimating them and came up with 800 in the area of the courthouse.  There were a few pied-billed and horned grebes among them and probably some of those that didn't look like any of the others might have been fall red-necked.  
        What else was out there?  Teal (at least green-winged), common merganser (over 100), wigeon (over 30), shovelers (at least 40), cormorant (90), bufflehead, lesser scaup, redhead, killdeer, belted kingfisher, gadwall, pelican, and surf scoter (3 - what a surprise).  I spotted the surf scoter not long before I ran into Scott Dean and some friends but couldn't relocate them.
        Finally, after sunset the starling/blackbird show was spectacular even though the numbers are decreasing - there may have been 8-10 thousand doing the "wave dance" tonight. 
        I really didn't expect to see the fall-out of grebes and ruddy ducks to stick around a second night - good weather, good eats I guess.
        Beth Hill
        Great Falls
      • bt1girl
        Mostly starling, they do look tan underneath when they turn the right direction in the last of the sunlight. I ve seen brewer s, red-wing and yellowhead
        Message 3 of 3 , Oct 5, 2013
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          Mostly starling, they do look tan underneath when they turn the right direction in the last of the sunlight.  I've seen brewer's, red-wing and yellowhead blackbirds and grackles in the mix.

          Tonight - only 12 ruddy duck, 2 western grebe, a couple hundred coots, a few dozen eared grebes - what a difference overnight.  I wonder where they are tonight - 

          Beth Hill 



          ---In mob-montana@yahoogroups.com, <jan2854@...> wrote:

          Thank you, Beth Hill, for this report of an amazing evening of counting countless birds!

          I was inspired by your mentioning of the "wave dance" of the "starling/blackbirds" enough that I grabbed a friend and we drove from Helena, hoping to spy the phenomenon along the West Bank in Great Falls.  We were not disappointed.  Wow!  What a sight!  My friend called it "Bird Fireworks".  And, in fact, she liked it better than the usual fireworks.  It was very impressive!

          As we watched I thought they were starlings.  Now that I'm viewing my photographs I see they have a lighter color and I'm wondering whether they are waxwings or what?

          I've place three images entitled, "Murmuration" in the ID Help file.  I'd love to know which species puts on such a display.

          Thank you, Beth Hill!  And thank you, Whomever, for help with ID.

          Janice Miller
          Helena

           



          ---In mob-montana@yahoogroups.com, <grizhill@...> wrote:

          There wasn't enough time to count every bird out on the water off the West Bank area tonight.  It was curious how the raft of western grebe, eared grebe, other grebe and ruddy duck slowly made their way upriver from last night to tonight.  Last night they were at the level of the water treatment plant and east of the big island, just after noon today they were above the big island and tonight they were up in the area of the new courthouse.  It was sunny and the light was MUCH better.  There wasn't enough time to count all the coots.  I did count over 180 western grebe.  It was so neat to hear so many making calls.  Even more amazing was the number of ruddy ducks - after 300 I was estimating them and came up with 800 in the area of the courthouse.  There were a few pied-billed and horned grebes among them and probably some of those that didn't look like any of the others might have been fall red-necked.  
          What else was out there?  Teal (at least green-winged), common merganser (over 100), wigeon (over 30), shovelers (at least 40), cormorant (90), bufflehead, lesser scaup, redhead, killdeer, belted kingfisher, gadwall, pelican, and surf scoter (3 - what a surprise).  I spotted the surf scoter not long before I ran into Scott Dean and some friends but couldn't relocate them.
          Finally, after sunset the starling/blackbird show was spectacular even though the numbers are decreasing - there may have been 8-10 thousand doing the "wave dance" tonight. 
          I really didn't expect to see the fall-out of grebes and ruddy ducks to stick around a second night - good weather, good eats I guess.
          Beth Hill
          Great Falls
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