A great day on Lake Champlain! Found all 3 of my principal targets - Tufted
Ducks, Redheads, and Harlequins.
Arrived at the South Hero causeway at 9 AM to find the viewing conditions
virtually ideal - no wind at all meant the water was almost as smooth as glass,
overcast skies meant no glare, and no heat shimmer. But there was no ice to
the west of the causeway so the 2000+ diving ducks were spread out and many
were far away. After about 45 minutes of looking through the far away ducks,
I said to myself that I bet the Tufted Ducks are close on the front edge of
the flock so they can stay out of the middle of the scaup. So I started
looking at the close birds and almost immediately found the Tufted Duck pair
indeed at the close edge of the flock! Distance was maybe 50 yards.
Other birds of note at South Hero were -
- Redheads - 3 males and 2 females (the 3rd female was probably around
- Surf Scoter - 1 young male
- Barrow's Goldeneye - 1 male, 1 female (tho I didn't search thru all the
Then on to Charlotte town beach. As reported by Roy Pilcher, we finally
found the young male Harlequin Duck. When I arrived only about 20 goldeneyes
were visible, and all soon moved out of view to the south. But about 20
minutes later something must have spooked the birds around the corner and a flock
of 150+ birds flew in front of us - including the harlequin. In flight the
harlequin was very noticable as it was basically all dark brown with no white
wing patches, unlike all the other waterfowl (goldeneyes, mergs, buffleheads)
with prominent white in the wings. Again water was almost as smooth as
glass! Other birds of note-
- Horned Grebe, 1
- DC Cormorant - 6 flying north
Button Bay had fewer birds and most were far away and with poor light. Best
highlights were 6 gadwalls.
Tri-town Water facility had just goldeneyes and common mergs.
On the way back home I tried for the White-fronted goose reported on the
Connecticut River. I found just 4 Canada Geese in the typical places along the
river in VT. A farmer's field across the river in NH had 200+ Canadas, but
with awful parking possibilities, I couldn't check them out very closely.
Non-waterfowl birds of note -
- 1 Bald Eagle - S of Vergennes
- 1 Rough-legged Hawk, dark phase, Button Bay
- Carolina wren - 1 at South Hero, 1 at Charlotte beach
A most worthwhile 13 hours and 460 miles !!