Yesterday Ron Payne and I went to the Champlain Bridge with goal of
getting as good a count of total waterfowl as we could. When we arrived
we were greeted by several birders looking at Canvasbacks and Barrow’s
Goldeneyes. By the time we left others had come, including one
determined soul who had just arrived by car with his two young sons from
North Carolina (and yes, they did see the Pochard!).
Conditions were good for counting. Reports from DAR were that there were
very few birds there, meaning we could get a good count from the bridge.
The ice margin was about 2000 feet to the northwest (measured via Google
Earth). Viewing was good throughout the period, especially with calm
waters early on.
The grand total count of ducks was 9826.
Clicker counts by individuals yielded 527 Common Mergansers, 3600 Common
Goldeneyes, 363 Mallards, and 64 Black Ducks. Six species had less than
The scaup count was more difficult. At first the scaup were all in one
very large, lengthy mass which blended into a Goldeneye concentration.
The scaup were clicker counted by 50s, with the intent of doing a more
detailed count following. The total was 5250 scaup. However, just as the
count was completed the birds in that mass lifted up and otherwise moved
about, continuing to rearrange one way or another for the rest of the
time we were there. So a more precise count was thwarted.
After the scattering about 60% of the scaup (3150 birds) were in the
central lake too far to confidently determine species. Several samplings
made of the other 40% (2100 birds) averaged to 35% Lessers (740 birds)
and 65% Greaters (1360 birds). The birds were not uniformly mixed so the
samples were of individual birds randomly chosen from throughout the
area occupied by scaup within a distance wherein species determinations
could be made.
The full checklist is at:
Expect the ice margin to move rapidly northward during the upcoming