We nonmigratory types sometimes get an opportunity to see into, and even stand in the midst of, large-scale migration. Today was such a day. I drove to Potash Bay and back – and everywhere, in trees, along the road, in fields, there were flocks of birds. On Mountain View Road in Williston, I stopped the car and counted over 1200 black birds (most Red-Winged with a few grackles) – oddly sharing a tree with a huge dark morph Rough-Legged Hawk. (I think this is the farthest north I’ve seen this species. There were at least six other Rough-Legged Hawks in various places from Ferrisburgh to Panton.) I saw Snow Buntings at the junction of Barber Farm Rd. and Route 117, on Cheesefactory Road, along Route 7 south of Shelburne, and in Panton. (The latter flock was well over 200.) There was a flock of 30 or more robins right before the turn to Potash Bay, with two birds singing “cheerio”. Small groups of Tree Sparrows and juncos flew up from the sides of the road in several locations. The confluence of Dead Creek and Otter Creek continues to be full of mallards, black ducks, pintails, Canada geese and (across the road) both Common and Hooded Mergansers. There were also many, many Ring-Billed Gulls as well as a Peregrine Falcon and two immature Bald Eagles (one of which coasted uncomfortably low over my head). At Potash Bay, there were huge numbers of goldeneyes, scaup and gulls.
Along with sheer numbers, there were also some unexpected first-of-the-spring birds: a killdeer in Panton and two flickers next to the road right before the Potash Bay turnoff.