Not Just One Field Trip

On November 12 UMBA  took to the field.  And what a great bunch of mini-field trips it was.  We started the morning at Giant Springs hoping to find the continuing Pacific Loon and the recent arrival of a male, breeding plumage Black Scoter.  We quickly found both birds and were able to watch them for some time.  The Pacific Loon was hanging out with several Common Loons.  It made comparing the two nice and easy.  A number of Common Goldeneye, Coot and a group of female Hooded Mergansers were in the area as well.  We then headed over to West Bank Park, but got side tracked at the caboose to see if the raft Of birds there were “just” Coots.  Well, they were, but after 30 minutes of interesting observations we had seen over 16 species including some interaction between Bald Eagle and Coot (poor harassed Coot), Bald Eagle and Redtail Hawk, Redtail and Sharpie, Sharpie and Magpie, a bunch of Redhead had one nice Ring-necked Duck with them.  On to West Bank Park.  Canada Geese were arriving at a steady pace.  There could have been 1000 there by mid-morning.  There was a flicker calling loudly from the island.  We wondered what might be at Benton Lake so we took a swing through.  The wind was starting to pick up by then.  We saw white caps on the big lake and at first thought it looked empty. HA!  Nothing could have further from the truth.  Coot numbers had to be over a thousand.  Maybe that many Gadwall and Wigeon, there were SOOOOO many.  Some Northern Shovelers, a very few Mallards, a number of Canada Geese and a nice group of 60 Snow Geese.  At first they almost looked like the white caps.  It was too early to quit so we took the river road between Ulm and Cascade.  We were paced by a small bird, grey, black and white “stop!”  And sure enough we had a Northern Shrike.  Nice looks as it made its way along the fence line next to the road in the direction we were going.  We saw several Roughlegs, Redtail Hawk, Northern Harriers and a wonderful look at a Prairie Falcon flying and perching.  Think about joining us on one of our field trip – you never know what we might find.

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