Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dutch Gap Conservation Area List for GBBC

double-crested cormorant 30
great blue heron 4
canada goose 20
wood duck 98
mallard 12
gadwall 13
american wigeon 2
northern shoveler 14
blue-winged teal 2
ring-necked duck 33
buffle head 1
turkey vulture 2
american coot 15
killdeer 41
ring-billed gull 6
belted kingfisher 1
red-bellied woodpecker 1
northern flicker 1
pileated woodpecker 2
american crow 7
carolina chickadee 2
carolina wren 1
ruby-crowned kinglet 1
northern mockingbird 2
european starling 2
yellow-rumped warbler 2
northern cardinal 4
song sparrow 3
dark-eyed junco 6
red-winged blackbird 2

We got at out the car at about 8:20. It was cold, but clear, and not yet too windy. Perhaps because of the early hour, counting ducks on the first big pond wasn't as hard as I thought. I'd seen on a birding listserv that someone else had a good list of water birds to turn in, so I didn't feel pressed to be perfect. I just started at one end, named the first species I saw and counted until I got to a point out-of-range for my binoculars. I got an approximate number, of course, but I was less troubled by individuals swimming and flying in and out of view than I expected. The wood ducks, which the other fellow numbered at 178, mostly stood around at the back edge of the pond. He may well have used a scope to pick them out of the woods.

After the pond, we opted for the Lagoon Trail today, which always means fewer woodpeckers than the River Trail. We probably see the same number of songbirds in each area. The cormorants didn't swoop at us this time; they were diving in the lagoon. There were gulls there, too, that I didn't even pretend to identify.

The killdeer were the biggest surprise, especially since Sibley asserts that they don't flock (surely anything over a dozen makes a flock?). But they are unmistakable. We saw them on the mudflats (that have been water-covered every other time we've been there) adjacent to the old river channel. Phiance gets credit for counting them. I did identify a handful of ring-billed gulls, there.

The cypress knees path always holds a surprise. This time, I'd just begun the trail when I stopped short at the sight of black wings spread out in the trees. After a few fleeting thoughts of bizarre totems and a painting (is it a Roshemburg?) at the Virginia Museum with a wing stuck in it, I arrived at "cormorants" as an answer. "No they're not," P. said, "they're vultures." Sure enough, one vulture drying its wings in the morning sun and wind (the wind began back by the killdeer and hasn't let up since), and another keeping it company.

We swung around the small lake that looks like a triangle on the map, and headed back to the car, picking up the kingfisher, kinglet, and some song sparrows. There surely were more sparrows, I just couldn't be sure of them. Perhaps the wind kept down the number of individual songbird, though the number of species seems about average.

Reading: Blue Highways, Willam Least Heat-Moon (it's due tomorrow!)


Fringe Element Enthusiast said...

Did I mention that I do an inspiring Kingfisher Dance?


spunky p said...

Egads--you guys are amazing! I added one, yes -one- bird to the freaking list...(I didn't know it was the GOBBC until I got back from observing a merlin falcon at Fort Caswell on the Cape Fear River.)

Way to go--overachiever. ;)Actually, I'm jealous I wasn't with you guys, doing it the right way!

spunky p

Lisa said...

We definitely set out to tackle the listing in a serious way, and even collected shorter lists at home and in a city park. P's Kingfisher Dance and my ability to identify ducks have both improved since last year.