Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Scoter Day" 10/14

A few times each fall Scoters (Blacks being the most common) put in a brief appearance on Central Massachusetts lakes. I have always had good luck on Crystal Lake in Gardner, mostly because I've checked often "on" strong cold fronts and/or fowl weather. This evening I checked Lake Wompanoag, from the Gardner side off Raymond Street, and was fortunate to find the tightly packed raft of ~2 dozen, pictured below. All were adult males with the exception of one that appeared to be an adult female or immature male.
A few dozen +/- Black Scoters on Lake Wompanoag, in a tightly packed raft (typical behavior of this species).
After spending 20 minutes at Wompanoag, I moved to Crystal Lake for the gull roost and to check for waterfowl. I found a small group of 7 drake Black Scoters, not too far out and snapped the photo below through the scope, in very poor light and with the camera's ISO set to 1600. Also on the lake were ~225 gulls that had come in to roost, those being Herring (135), Ring-billed (75) and Great Black-backed (16). Well after dusk, in the dark, the puddle ducks arrived in numbers, approx. 350 +/- nearly all being Mallards as best I could tell.
7 Black Scoters on Crystal Lake, in Gardner.
At lunch break today, I digi-binned this Great Blue Heron at Surrenden Farm, in Groton. Yesterday I had counted 66 Killdeer and ~100 American Pipits (flushed by an immature Cooper's Hawk) in the area. Today neither were observed.

Immature Great Blue Heron


Kim said...

Really nice picture of the Great-blue Heron and the Black Scoter shot came out pretty good considering it was digiscoped in poor light!

Good idea about going out to bird during lunch. I have been thinking of doing more of that now that it's getting so dark out so early and late.

I can't get over the number of Herring Gulls you get at your roost! There is one in Worcester near Crompton Park and I have yet to stop because so far all I see are about 50 or so Ring-billed Gulls every morning at 7:30 or so on my way to work. I would definately stop for the Herrings though. A great Black-backed gull would case me to jam my breaks and cause a 10 car collision. ;-)

Tom Pirro said...

Hi Kim, Thanks for the kind words. Crystal Lake has always been, at least since I started birding, a good evening spot of gull in fall and spring. I had always thought it was because of the Gardner landfill, but that closed in 2005 (for good) and the gulls still keep coming. Mostly from the Westminster landfill, a large commercial operation. There have times with nearly 3,000 gulls coming in, the majority Herring....I am waiting for a first Iceland and Lesser Black-backed to show, maybe in late Nov/early Dec. a Glaucous will show. Once Crystal freezes over they all go to Wachusett Res.

Tom Pirro said...

I checked my ebail data and my largest gull count at Crystal Lake was 11/24/2006 with ~2200 Herring, ~500 Great Black-backed and less than 100 Ring-billed. Ring-billed don;t seem to hang around the landfills in this area, the bigger species tend to dominate the dumps. I have also had Iceland, Lesser Black-backed and Glaucous at Crystal lake...and Bonepart's a few times. Glaucous can be tough at this local, because they arrive late in the season and that lake freezes about that time and the roost "moves on". Wachusett Res. is really good for roosting gulls, but sometimes they can be far out.

Bill Sheehan said...

Hi Tom,

Interesting about the Black Scoters showing up mid Oct. I see them up here in northern Maine about that time too. Interesting that I too have been encountering mainly males in the flocks.