Yesterday, after a cold, calm, clear night, when dawn broke virtually
all the lake south of Thompson's Point was a single sheet of ice.

Only two of the stops made by Ron Payne and me from Button Bay southward
had lake birds.  A large concentration of nearly 2400 Common Goldeneyes
and 195 Common Mergansers were in leads west of Button Island, while a
concentrated pod of dabblers (about 100) and Canada Geese (248) mingled
in an ice-free opening of their own making on the west shore of Button
Pond.  These birds were viewed from Button Point at the southwestern tip
of Button Bay State Park.

Two similar duck-maintained openings in the ice were in the vicinity of
Rock Island in White Bay (south of Arnold Bay).  The constant swimming
of the birds, almost entirely dabblers, circulated enough water to keep
it from freezing -- concentrating the birds in a very small space in the
process.  At their distance from shore, the tightly packed birds did not
look like birds at all ... more like a small line of rocks poking just
above water level.  Ted Murin and Steve Antell arrived at the viewing
location (junction of Pease, Arnold Bay, and Lake Roads) moments after
Ron and I did, and we viewed the birds for over two hours.

We counted 5722 ducks and geese overall; there were 13 species of ducks
seen.  A number of very cheerful folks out enjoying the spectacular
winter day shared our scopes from time to time, ooing and awing at the
great numbers of ducks and the sight of multiple eagles.

White Bay checklist is at:
Button Island checklist is at:

Considering the history of birds in the part of the lake since they
started concentrating in late October, the most noteworthy change in the
last several days has been the decreasing number of Scaup to the point
they are virtually absent now -- perhaps having moved north to the open
lake west of Chittenden County, or to warmer waters well south of
Vermont.  Scaup high counts were 5499 in December (almost all Lessers)
and 5250 (about 2/3 Greaters) January 19th.  Yesterday there were only
30 Greater Scaup and 26 Lessers.

Yesterday's combined counts:

Common Goldeneye ---- 2392
Mallard ---- 2139
Black Duck ---- 532
Canada Goose ---- 388
Common Merganser ---- 196
Greater Scaup ---- 30
Lesser Scaup ---- 26
Hooded Merganser ---- 7
Redhead ---- 5
Gadwall ---- 2
Red-breasted Merganser ---- 2
Bufflehead ---- 1
Common Pochard ---- 1
Ring-necked Duck ---- 1
Bald Eagle ---- 16