I've been doing a duckling brood count in the Missisquoi Refuge, in Cranberry
Pool (off Dead Creek) - not many ducklings but great birding nevertheless,
with both American and least bitterns, nesting osprey, nesting black terns,
great blue herons, etc. Yesterday evening I watched an immature bald eagle
for over 40 minutes as it stood on a large fallen log in the water eating
something. It looked half-way between the second year and third year pictures
in Sibley's: rich brown, white below its nape, mottled white on wings, quite
a bit of mottled white on its belly, a quite definite eyestripe. Its feet and
legs looked very yellow against the dark log.
I also saw an immature black-billed cuckoo, so they must be nesting there.
As we were kayaking out Dead Creek toward the Missisquoi, a bird flew from a
downed tree that lay in the water, headed downstream and into a tall
deciduous tree and I couldn't find it again. We saw it only from the back,
unfortunately, but the impression was of dark brown and white wings with a
clear pattern of brown or brownish black near the body and at the ends with a
large patch of white in the middle. It flew with strong beats and no glides
but may have done a swoop or dip right before entering the big tree. The bird
was probably between jay and kingfisher in size (hard to be sure from that
angle). I'm completely stumped. Red-headed woodpecker? There??
I have a feeling that there's more than one birder out there who will read
about the wing pattern and immediately know what the bird was.