Observations, Tuesday, November 5, 2002
Canada goose (58), mallard (31), American black duck (33), ring-necked duck
(~165), hooded merganser (48), ring-billed gull (2), shorebird species (2).
As an isolated list out of context, these observations warrant not much more
than the delete key! However, when viewed as an element in a continuum of
monthly data over a period of five years, the raw numbers take on an added
significance and interest. Consider the Canada goose observation for a
starter, there is a consistency in occurrence here that the raw number does
not expose, since their absence is noted only four times during the five year
observation period. The black duck/mallard totals range as high as 79 on
11/3/2000 to consistent lows each May, 4 on 5/1/1998, 9 on 5/1/2001 and 6 on
5/3/2002, while in each case the earlier, March and/or April number is
higher. What is at work here? Are these wetlands thawing earlier and thus
providing a food base before surrounding areas can be exploited? Then there
are the ring-necked ducks whose numbers generally peak in April and then
again in November, 62 on 11/21/98, 127 on 4/15/2000, 22 on 4/19/2001, 164 on
4/4/2002 and 165 on 11/5/2002. For the other eight of or nine months they
are absent, classic migrants using these wetlands as a stopover whether going
north or south. Finally the hooded mergansers which seem to peak also during
November, 63 on 11/21/1998, 22 on 11/11/1999, 29 on 11/3/2000 and 22 on
12/3/2001 (the exception) and 48 on 11/5/2002. Except for a few sightings in
early spring they are unreported and apparently not present.
To be sure all of this may add little to our collective knowledge and
understanding but I would suggest that if one has the opportunity to take a
particular area, it could be your own backyard, a favorite walk, a pond,
whatever, and visit and monitor the bird activity there consistently over a
period of time, then you will be rewarded with an added appreciation of the
rhythms of the seasons and the manner in which the birds both exploit them,
and at the same time, are governed by them.
Speaking the Same Language.