Date: 12/24/20 3:58 pm
From: Joseph Neal <joeneal...>
Subject: SOME STARS IN TODAY’S COLD FIRMAMENT
Window-rattling wind, a lot of stuff frozen type day. Hope of a crazy species is born in such cold and wild. Hope that it is even colder and wilder up north. That, anyway, was the theory about birding this morning at a couple of lakes around Fayetteville.
I don’t have anything staggering to report, something that might interfere with Christmas Day. But here goes. (And with apologies to Emily Dickinson, who wrote, “I hope you love birds. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.”)
Sad to say, zero Long-tailed ducks at Lake Fayetteville, but north wind was mainly blocked while we were on the dock adjacent Environmental Study Center. The sun was trying to come out. It was almost pleasant. We kept hearing bluebirds. Suddenly, here came a swarm, settling atop big sycamores. We counted 1 x 1 up to 117 atop 4 trees. Carefully, too, because one of them could have been be a Mountain Bluebird. Zero Mountain Bluebirds, but I have never seen such a flock.
From Lake Fayetteville, we drifted around to Lake Sequoyah. We didn’t get quite to the lake when we spotted a flock of nearly 100 Rusty Blackbirds in the pasture with horses next to the bridge. It is the highest number of rusties I’ve seen in quite a while. And all the many wonderful permutations and combinations of rustiness in which they so improbably appear.
Black Vultures at Lake Sequoyah had the right idea. More than 100 were perched in a patch of sun illuminating part of the dam. And one Great Blue Heron.
Other stars in today’s firmament of Lake Sequoyah included the one most improbable: the continuing Surf Scoter. Vivek Govind Kumar and I looked and looked, but all we could see were a few cormorants, Buffleheads, and Pied-billed Grebes. Vivek called Todd Ballenger, who’d seen it earlier today.
V wasn’t off the phone too long before we finally spotted it. If you go looking, it remains in the big pool north of the single-lane bridge.


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