A phone call late Wed. night from Phil Ballou in Tinmouth alerted me to
some geese and duck activity on Elfin Lake in Wallingford. Along with
hundreds of geese, Phil had IDed LongTail Ducks, C. Mergansers, Scoters and
some other very, very white ducks. Unfortunately it was getting very dark
and Phil did not have a scope. We arranged to meet at the lake Thurs. a.m.
The geese were there. The clouds were breaking with wonderful patterns in
the sky. The sun was coming up and the fog was coming and going over the
water in little swirls. A quick scan found 1 Long Tail Duck in winter
plumage among over 2000 geese. No sign of other ducks until several of the
geese had departed. Then we picked out C. Merganser and Hooder Merg.
But over the next 1 1/2 hours it was a migratory frenzy. Around 7:30 small
flocks of geese began to leave the pond - 20 to 60 in a group. The
interesting thing was that every group first flew N. passing just over our
heads at tree height and then with a lot of 'discussion' and circling,
finally began to form up and head S. As we watched group after group
'deploy', they were joined by large skeins of geese coming over from the N.
and heading straight down the valley - perhaps 1-2,000 more migrants. Just
what is it that decides who goes and when; what size the group? etc.?
Then came a long, drawnout mass of blackbirds; we could hear them before we
saw them. Impossible to guess how many. There were constant strings of
crows as well as 3 mini-groups of 10-20 pipits also overhead during our
watch. With the 'conversation' from the birds, the sun coming up
sandwiched between the clouds, 'sundogs' filtering through, we certainly
had a morning to remember.
Phil's 'jizz' guess on those very, very white ducks was SMEW!!!!! Would
that we had been able to scope and verify such a sighting !! Is there any
record for this bird in VT?
We departed at 8:30. Only 3 Canada Geese remained.
C. Loon - on Emerald Lake on the way home
Canada Goose - 4,000+/-
Long Tailed Duck
1 female Hooded Merganser
4 C. Merganser
l Accipiter flyover- large, possible Coopers
Phil Ballou - Tinmouth
E. Dorset, VT