On a brisk morning that made us feel like winter had arrived, we did our Brunswick loop to sample a variety of habitats to track the changes in birdlife that accompany the season.
We came to a quick stop at the edge of a field for a small flock of birds that were probably Snow Buntings, but we were unable to relocate them. Upon arrival at Simpson's Point, the changes in waterbirds was readily apparent, especially the increased arrival of birds from the north. BUFFLEHEADS were particularly abundant, with 125+ in all. Other recent arrivals included 20 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, 5 COMMON GOLDNEYES, 3 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, 2 RED-THROATED LOONS, 1 COMMON LOON, and one HORNED GREBE. Additionally, 7 southbound COMMON MERGANSERS were on the move, while only 10 COMMON EIDERS, 4 MALLARDS, and 3 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS were present in the coves.
Over at Wharton Point, we were greeted by a GREAT BLUE HERON, a RED-TAILED HAWK, and the omnipresent NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD. A raft of 54 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS loafed offshore, with a single drake Long-tailed Duck in close. Another Red-throated Loon was tallied, but the loafing gulls were limited to just 8 RING-BILLED and 4 HERRING GULLS.
Our primary target was the large flock of AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS that pool up here at this time of year. Unfortunately, they were tucked into a far shoreline today. A goodly 425+ were present, but they were too far to sift through to pull out any other species among them.
Finally, we spent a little time along Highland Road, hoping for Snow Buntings and the like. 4 distant birds were probably Horned Larks, but that was all we found in the stubble. However a little vismig of AMERICAN ROBINS totaled 48 birds and 4 TURKEY VULTURES were taking to air. A single RED CROSSBILL flew by very closely, but somehow none of us got eyes on it. However, we finished up with two truant BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS joining HOUSE SPARROWS, among the cattle, appropriately enough.