April 29, 2018 FALLOUT- Grebes,Buffleheads, and Bonaparte’s Gulls.
The event- I was atPondicherry on Friday (light rain), and Errol/Lake Umbagog on Saturday (dry) withsubstantial numbers of water birds but nothing truly out of the ordinary. Acold rain that began sometime Saturday night was enough to shoo me out of Errolearly on Sunday so I headed west through Dixville Notch, with a stop inColebrook (seven Greater Yellowlegs), but nothing hinting of a fall-out. Ilooked at dozens of flooded fields, the length of the Connecticut River, andseveral ponds as I headed south and then finally hit the jackpot at MooreReservoir in Littleton. As soon as I saw the large number of birds at Moore (atleast 800) I called to report it and ask for help! Initially most of the birdswere close-enough to be identified by telescope but that changed quickly oncethe rain stopped- they swam farther offshore and became little specks. Iactually counted 200+ Buffleheads and 100+ Red-necked Grebes but then I wantedto discover what else was out there before they swam out of range. Afterscanning for different species (list follows) I counted all the grebes andducks (750+) plus there were a few loons and a couple dozen Herring Gulls. Afterwatching them for about an hour with Sandy and Mark Turner plus Mary and DickBoulanger I was about ready to leave when 30 Bonaparte’s Gulls flew in andjoined the fray. And then word reached us that there were more birds downstreamat Comerford Dam so I headed south again.
The data- these numbersare approximate and conservative, they also include the Comerford birds and Suzanne Smith’s HornedGrebes on Newfound Lake.
Red-necked Grebe- 275+
Horned Grebe- 200+ (includesSuzanne’s birds on Newfound)
Ring-necked Duck- 40+
scaup species- 30+
Long-tailed Duck- 25+(does not include Dylan’s 28 on Sunapee).
Green-winged Teal- 10
Surf Scoter- five onMoore plus Dave’s pair nearby.
Red-breasted Merganser- onemale for sure.
Bonaparte's Gull- 30
There were a few othermergansers and dabbling ducks and several flocks of a couple hundred birds thatare not even in the above tally because they were too far away to even put in acategory.
A few preliminarythoughts- This is the fifth-time grebes have “fallen-out” in such numbers in April,and when all is said and done, this might be the largest number of birds evertallied. It is the third time that such an even has been noted at MooreReservoir in Littleton (1996, 2002, and this year), with the other two eventsat Squam Lake and in the Concord region. But this is the first time thatBuffleheads shared almost equally in the number of birds. It apparently is alsothe most widespread geographically, when the birds on Newfound Lake and (likely)on Lake Sunapee are added into the total.
The Bonaparte’s Gull tallyis also likely to be an all-time record. The spring editor’s task will beweaving together their movements especially related to the grebe and Buffleheadflights. I plan to help with that.
Parting thoughts- thanksto everyone who already has reported on what they saw (or did not) today. Allthe data is a giant jigsaw puzzle and the more reports that are submitted toeBird the easier it will be to track and analyze it all. Encourage everyone youknow to submit all their data. The Buffleheads were especially scattered(except for at Moore) yet the total number will be very impressive indeed.
Finally- get out tomorrowmorning if you can! Some of these birds will still be around and maybe morewill fall-out over tonight.
Many thanks to Becky,Dave, Sandy and Mark, Mary and Dick, Dylan, Suzanne, Laura, et al for sharingand helping.
Bob Quinn, with lots ofhelp.
"Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth." Chief Seattle