Wednesday, March 10, 2010

3/09/2010 Flying Goldeneyes are in town. Scaup! Scaup!

3/09/2010 Beaudette Park, Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan
2:15-3:15 pm, very light overcast, temps in mid-50s! Outstanding March day!!!

There was still some snow and ice left, but I think it has reached the time of year when we laugh at snow! If it comes now, it will go soon! Ha!

Judy and I took a brief interlude and had a wonderful early spring day at Beaudette Park. We saw more wonderful ducks than ever before! Literally hundreds! They blanketed the water in many places! Well maybe not a blanket, more of a quilt, but there were lots and lots of ducks! I am here making a blog separately from my newly created Beaudette blog because I want to insert some pics and I am inspired to write a longer story.

I love the title I gave to my blog - The Flying Goldeneyes! It suggests a name for a family of trapeze artists! It recalls wonderful memories of the traveling amusements that mesmerized cities before reality shows! I initially considered it might have been a good name for a new rock band, but realized it was certainly not "heavy" enough for today's tastes! I guess I am still more into the Sargent Pepper days. Like who today would go see Flying Goldeneyes when you could see a 9 Inch Nail (huh?) or a bunch of Bare Naked Ladies who are all men? Forget rock bands!
This is a wonderfully lucky photo. I heard and saw them coming. Shoot Shoot! Shoot! Fortunately a couple of pics were in focus! Yes. This is much better than my previous flying Hooded Merganser shot! Hey, Jerry! I'm getting better! (Or is it just more lucky this time?)

The Flying Goldeneyes

Another very lucky shot of flight happened when I heard the birds that always seem to need oil in their wing pits - Mute Swans. They may not talk much, but you always know when they are flying around! I took several shots as they headed toward me. Most of them amazingly turned out! This pic gives a bit a of the crowd scene on the water behind.

Silent Swan a'Swinging

I just love the sound of the word "scaup" and the feeling as it issues forth! It is a wonderful exclamation of joy! Scaup! Scaup! We saw our first scaup at Beaudette. I think it is a Greater Scaup. Yes?

Scaup! Scaup!

I am going to drop in a couple of "crowd shots" of the bird quilt at Beaudette for my own memories and also for Colleen and the Macomb Audubon Society to generate some excitement about the field trip this coming Saturday. No guarantees, Colleen - these darn flappy things are so flighty (sic)! but we sure love this place, are we are looking forward to a great Chinese lunch afterwards! Dim sum, perhaps?
(Click on Field Trips 2010, go to number 4. If Dawson's Mill Pond or Beaudette Park does not appear on the map, zoom out or scroll slightly left until you see its marker...)

I am throwing out a few "crowd shots" - not great pics, but you can get the idea of abundance!

Crowd Shot with Bufflehead, Canvasbacks and Redheads

Dam crowd shot - these represent maybe 1/4 of the total population on the pond

Crowd shot with at least five species - look in your books and get ready

Yes, scopes would be fantastic, but here you only need binocs or even 300 mm camera telephotos (as you see). Hope for the dogs on the opposite bank to help keep the birds on our side - but even if they do not, the distance is not too far!
Species list:
Canvasbacks - at least 200 hundred!!!
Redheads - dozens
Goldeneyes - dozens
Buffleheads - a few - less than half a dozen
Ring-Necked Ducks - ca. two dozen (Why are they not called ring-billed ducks???)
Mute Swans - 7 (about half as many as usual)
No black-billed swans seen...
Mallards - many fewer than usual for this normally dominant species - interesting! Maybe only a dozen or so.
Hooded Mergansers - only 2 (m/f)
Greater (?) Scaup - first seen (Scaup! Scaup!)
Canada Geese - 11 (most seen there for a month)
Herring Gull - 1
Ring-Billed Gull - 2
Cardinal - 1f
Crow -2
Why do I count in dozens?
1) I guess it is much easier than taking the time to actually count them. I would rather shoot hundreds of pics and hope something is worth printing than go "1,2,3... birds on the lake" (sound like a good song for "going up north" with kids in the car...). Judy and I get more pleasure at present from reviewing our pics together than from actual numbers of birds seen. Just seeing the bird as being present is enough! One bird pic in hand is worth far more than a missed opportunity. Of course, if I go to posting results on e-bird (after going out with Ed Lewandowski, I am actually thinking about it), I might be pushed into more accurate counts...
2) It is a good "gestalt". I have seen many egg cartons in my life. I know whether there are more or less than a dozen.
3) It seems appropriate - like what's in an egg carton anyway but an uncounted bird?
4) Oh. I did shoot a panorama for reference (ala Jerry J.) but have no idea how to put it together yet and wonder if it would be meaningful to me to count the birds if I did take the days to do so. (Hey! I am only entering my second year of birding!) Yet, Jerry's pics were just so fantastically amazing I must try it - even if I do not bother to count the birds!
5) I normally use my own vocabulary for abundance. It goes something like: a few, several, many, lots, abundant, dominant, or I use a specific number for those species with less than 6 or so. Actually I have calibrated and tested my qualitative scale for consistency with a range of numbers to substantiate my assessment. It seems fairly consistent. For this trip there were just so darn many birds I had to move the scale up a notch to the next power! Rather than going with the scientifically-copasetic metric, I reverted to the familiar English (?) system.
I hope you enjoyed my story! Enjoy spring birding!!!
" Dr. Bob"

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