Well that was fun! Again. We really have had a good streak of great birdwalk outings, and today was one of the best in a while. For those new to birding and our morning birdwalks, I can ASSURE you they are always this great. And if you believe that...
It was bitter cold to start, but thanks to calm winds and bright sun, it was not just tolerable, but as the temperatures shot through the 20's, it became downright comfortable. And the birding was rather exceptional for the date.
We began at the cove, where a really nice mix of the expected late shorebirds included 22 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, 6 DUNLIN, and 5 GREATER YELLOWLEGS but was punctuated by a tardy LESSER YELLOWLEGS. As per my request, one of the Greaters marched right up to the Lesser providing perfect side-by-side comparison studies.
Early in the walk, another of our "birds of the day" tee'd up in typical NORTHERN SHRIKE fashion; the first of the season for just about everyone, and a life bird for some. Unfortunately, we were unable to relocate it after it took off.
Visible Migration, was well, visible, overhead, with a total of about 40 COMMON GRACKLES and 35 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS passing through in small groups, along with a couple of very small flocks of PINE SISKINS totaling 14 birds. About 10 AMERICAN ROBINS, and a nice vocal flock of 8 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were the other diurnal migrants detected, with four more bluebirds being seen much closer on the farm. One YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER working around the shoreline was also probably engaged in a little bit of a Morning Flight.
A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and reduced vegetation after harvesting reduced the number of sparrow in the vegetable farm to a mere one SONG SPARROW, but over at the barn, we had a really nice mix of migrant sparrows, including great looks at two immature WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. Two SWAMP SPARROWS and our second AMERICAN TREE SPARROW (the first of the season for everyone) on the morning joined about 10 more Song Sparrows. Earlier, we had about 4 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS with about 20 DARK-EYED JUNCOS and a scattered few Songs.
Out in the bay, a growing number of diving ducks included our first three COMMON GOLDENEYES of the season, and 50+ RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. A BALD EAGLE with two talons-full of grassy vegetation passed overhead, while a RED-TAILED HAWK was being bothered by its usual entourage of AMERICAN CROWS.
Towards the end of the walk, we had yet another great sighting: a molting juvenile BOHEMIAN WAXWING that flew in, calling, and landed directly over our heads behind the barn. Very early, it's yet another irruptive species that appears to be pouring our of the Boreal forest this fall. With so many folks new to birding this year, this season is really setting a wicked high bar that might be tough to match!