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Birdwalk Highlights for 3/9: Broad Cove Preserve, Cumberland.

A dead-calm morning was perfect for viewing waterbirds, but it was the start to finish show that was surprising on today's very productive outing!

While the bird of the day honors could be contested, I'll arbitrarily award it to the pair of GADWALLS that were just hanging out in the cove, easily observed without a breath of air movement on the water. The dapper drake did a little courting, too, before the pair flew off together. We don't see Gadwalls very often on our birdwalks, but what was most unusual was that they were the absolute only dabbling duck we spotted today!

Northbound migrant flocks of CANADA GEESE turned our attention skywards at times, with a final tally of 240 among 6 flocks. While scoping the last one, I spotted a PEREGRINE FALCON - unexpectedly - that came closer and passed by, also heading north - although this could be a local resident commuting to a favored hunting spot, too.

While the pair of RED-TAILED HAWKS were much more expected, they put on such an incredible show today - perching, soaring, gliding, the male delivering a morsel to the female, etc - that they might have been the bird of the day for many folks. Too tough to choose! But it was a great show.

On our walk to the cove, we also had a flyover RED CROSSBILL, although it unfortunately kept going. Seven AMERICAN ROBINS paused briefly, a CAROLINA WREN sand, a couple of HAIRY WOODPECKERS put on a show, and we spotted one each of SONG SPARROW and DARK-EYED JUNCO, 4 NOTHERN CARDINALS (including three counter-singing males), and more. The lower field produced a flock of about 15 WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS. Then, on the walk back, we had a pair of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, a calling RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, a BALD EAGLE passing by, and a TURKEY VULTURE drifting overhead.

Down at the water, in addition to the Gadwalls, highlights included exceptional looks at HORNED GREBES (a total of10) and lots of COMMON LOONS (at least 13) including one close one almost in full breeding plumage. Not surprisingly, however, wintering waterfowl were thinning out, with other totals including about 40 BUFFLEHEADS, 20 COMMON EIDER, 9 COMMON GOLDENEYES, 8 SURF SCOTERS, 4 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, and 4 LONG-TAILED DUCKS. We also had 3 distant COMMON MERGANSERS heading north high in the distance.

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