Late update…I’ve been a bit busy recently with classes and helping teach ornithology. Anyways, I took my first trip ever up to Presque Isle State Park with Nate and Tim to look for waterfowl and the large number of redpolls that have been reported up there. We were pretty excited about birding in the 10 degree Fahrenheit weather but at least it was a clear sunny day. We were also hoping to jump start our year lists by spending the whole day birding.
Things started off pretty slow, feeders were occupied by House Sparrows, ducks were a long distance out in the only open patch of water and not many birds were moving around.
We were about halfway around the loop before Nate picked up a flyover Common Redpoll which got us excited. Unfortunately this would be the theme of the day as we searched for more redpolls where they had been previously reported. We ended up with about 5 flyovers and later found out that a flock of over 100 had been on the other side of the park. Can’t get them all, I guess.
One big surprise was finding a Tree Swallow at Fry’s Landing. It had been reported a week or so ago but I certainly didn’t expect it to still be around. We thought it was flying somewhat weakly but it did seem to be foraging for insects. Whether there were actually any insects around is another story.
We headed over to the Public Dock to get a better view of the distant ducks and gulls. The bay was mostly frozen over and was covered with ice fishermen. The birding was pretty good; we quickly picked up Ring-billed, Herring, Bonaparte’s and both Lesser and Great Black-backed Gulls. Nate then picked out an adult Glaucous Gull which really stuck out once we found it. It was quite aggressive towards all the other gulls.. Looking back, we should have walked out on the ice to get closer looks and better photos
The other good bird of the day was a Trumpeter Swan that was associating with a flock of Tundra Swans. It was my first state bird of the year and pushed me over 100 for my year list. Hopefully we can get back up the Presque Isle when the water opens up a bit more and there are more ducks and gulls.