I also saw a lone female Long-tailed Duck late in the afternoon last wednesday off the Burlington waterfront. The duck was far out in the lake between the breakwater and Juniper Island. A nice look at a hard to find Chittenden County winter visitor.
Besides viewing the usual assemblage of winter waterfowl, I had the opportunity ( rare for me) to watch a Common Loon tangling with a rather large eel-like fish that it had captured and wounded. While the fish slowly twisted and coiled snake-like in the near freezing water, the Loon kept stabbing at it, most likely with the hope that it could stun the fish enough to facilitate a head first delivery into the loon's mouth for a smoother slide down the hatch. This went on for at least five minutes before a head first entry was executed followed by several long neck stretches and throat contractions that reminded me of some kind of avian sword swallowing routine. As the fish was several inches longer than the loon it all seemed a bit hard to believe ( or better yet swallow!). Curious as to what this long, slender, blunt nosed fish could have been, I consulted the Fishes of Vermont - a must for your Vt. natural history library - and was surprised to learn that Lake champlain does have an American Eel population in addition to my first guess, the much maligned Sea Lamprey. Any arm chair ichthyologists out there ( or real ones for that matter ) care to speculate on what that loon was choking down?
On Feb 16, 2013, at 6:19 PM, Larry Clarfeld wrote:
> Hi VTBirders,
> I've been trying to get in some Great Backyard Bird Count birding this
> weekend and have had a few notable finds...
> Yesterday morning, at Blodgett Beach (in Burlington), I had a distant
> female Long-tailed Duck. It only stuck around for a few minutes before
> flying north.
> This afternoon, while walking around Colchester Pond, I had nice looks at a
> Northern Shrike in the large field just north of the parking area.
> Overall, it was not a birdy walk... I went 1.5 hrs without seeing or
> hearing a single bird!
> Good birding,
> Larry Clarfeld
> Environmental Educator
> Youth Birding Coordinator
> North Branch Nature Center
> 713 Elm St.
> Montpelier, VT 05602
> (802) 229-6206
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