Friday, November 5, 2010

Milwaukee lakefront, 11/4-11/5 - Three new BIGBY birds, first of year snowflakes

Ran across three new MilWALKee BIGBY species over the past two days. My list of MilWALKee BIGBY species now stands at 171. Two of these birds were also 2010 "combo" BIGBY species, bringing that count to 211 species.

Highlights from Thursday, 11/4:

* Wilson's Snipe. Flushed from the south end of Veterans Park lagoon. MilWALKee BIGBY species #169.

* Common Nighthawk(?). This seems REALLY late! I was by Discovery World and heard what sounded exactly like a Common Nighthawk "peenting" as it headed south. Couldn't make visual confirmation. The only other bird I know of that can make a sound like that is a displaying American Woodcock, and I'm pretty sure they only do that in spring. Not sure what to think.

* American Coot numbers seem to be gradually declining. Where I used to see hundreds, I'm now seeing dozens.

* Saw the largest flock of Canada Geese I think I've ever seen on the ground. 600+ birds just north of Veterans Park. The orange-collared goose from Hudson Bay is still hanging around. It's been there since at least October 11. There were also several Cacklers mixed in, although they weren't as small as the one I photographed earlier this week.

Highlights from Friday, 11/5:

* First really wintry day I've experienced this fall. And I saw several first-of-season snowflakes! I was out for 3+ hours with the temps in the mid-30s, and wind chills in the mid-20s. Lake Michigan was pretty rough, with some pretty big waves. I remember thinking "you could almost surf on these waves". Right on cue, when I got to Bradford Beach there was someone in the surf with a small (maybe 8-foot) board, trying to catch some waves. It chilled me to the core just to watch! This photo might give you a sense of how rough the lake was:

* Lots of duck activity off of Bradford Beach and North Point. Both Scaup species, Buffleheads, White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter, Ring-necked Duck. And, of course, lots of Mallards. Given the weather conditions, I was surprised by how much flying in and flying out was going on. There was quite a bit of turnover as I watched. I was also surprised to see sleeping ducks riding the rough surf with heads tucked under their wings.

* Ring-necked Duck was MilWALKee BIGBY species #170, and 2010 combo BIGBY #210.

* Black Scoter was MilWALKee BIGBY species #171, and 2010 combo BIGBY #211.

Bernie Sloan

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