Ron Payne and I surveyed Lake Champlain from the Champlain Bridge to
Button Bay Saturday. The lake is frozen beneath the bridge and
southward, but almost entirely ice free from there northward. Bird
species, numbers, and distribution are little changed from the past
week. No new water birds are added to what have been seen recently.
Notably, the number of Common Mergansers was considerably less than
earlier in the week. It seems we are in need of some good weather event
to bring about a change.
The greatest concentration of birds was within a mile or so of the ice
margin west and north of the bridge. Another concentration was in
Button Bay. With absolutely calm waters and good lighting the viewing
conditions were excellent. We were able to get very good counts of birds.
One count was anything but, however. From Arnold's Bay we heard a few
geese, looked north, and saw a few geese appearing from the east ... and
started counting. However, the counting quickly became close to
impossible as the few geese turned into an extensive undulating, complex
amoeboid mass of geese strung out as it continued to enter our view ---
and passed below the crest of Split Rock ridge to our north along the
water from east to west. Each of us counted as best we could a couple
of times. Our counts varied widely. We settled on a number of 1000,
thinking afterward that if a camera was at hand that might have been the
only way to know how many birds there were.
High counts included:
Common Goldeneye 2667 --- Champlain Bridge
Greater/Lesser Scaup 907 --- Raft was viewable from both the bridge
and DAR State Park. Species not determined, but all recent counts have
had nearly all birds being Lessers.
Common Merganser 211 --- Champlain Bridge
Black Duck 137 --- Button Bay
Mallard 457 --- Button Bay
Canada Geese 1000 --- Arnold Bay
Horned Grebe 84 --- Spaulding Bay to Button Bay
Great Blue Heron 2 --- Button Bay; in shallow along a grassy beach edge
adjacent to much duck activity. They have been there for some time.
Other waterfowl were 10 Common Loons and three Hooded Mergansers.
All species have been reported to eBird.