[CT Birds] Coventry Lake- re-cap from Sunday's count

Mntncougar at aol.com Mntncougar at aol.com
Tue Dec 20 10:36:21 EST 2016

Because of the weather I made 2 trips to the lake Sunday, and  I've 
included the narratives and counts from both because of the changes in  count and 
ultimately the weather, as the Arctic front came through, starting  about 10 
minutes to 3:00.
Ist report: Started out around 11 AM, because it was so foggy  up till then 
I wouldn't have been able to see much.
I wish now I had gone out earlier, because it started to rain  after about 
an hour and a half to the point where I couldn't use my scope. It  was 
already  pretty bad, with the ground/water/ice-hugging fog and mist.  Actually, 
the rain seems to be dissipating the fog, and if the rain stops I'm  planning 
to go out again, so hopefully these figures are preliminary.  Except for 
the exact count I doubt they will change much  though.
The lake is about 80% frozen and that has pushed the birds into  a 
"corner", almost literally. Almost all the ducks I found were almost directly  off 
the Beach at Waterfront Park (Wangumbaug Dr.) in a few acres of open water  
In one respect, the sudden freeze may have benefited the count  somewhat, 
as I had more Mergs of both sp. than I found on 2 previous tries. they  may 
have come in from other locations, but possibly were scattered around the  
lake, since I never found them in one place before. the 9 Mute Swans have been 
 there for a week now, and that's the most I ever saw on the lake. The CG 
count  is down, so they are hiding someplace, maybe in a corn  field.
I saw no sign of the Ruddies that have been there this week.  The corner 
they were in is frozen solid. Also, no sign of the  Loon.
Ring-billed  Gull                                            37   
 Herring  Gull                                                  3
Mute  Swan                                                   9
Canada  Geese                                             57
Hooded  Merganser                                     64
Common  Merganser                                   69
Ring-necked  Duck                                        5
Gadwall                                                          2
Mallard                                                             91
I headed out again about 1:45, and was pleasantly surprised to  see that in 
3 hours time a lot of the lake ice had melted. I estimated 60%  remaining 
frozen. As I expected I found pretty much the same birds, but quite a  few 
more in some cases, probably because the fog was completely gone and the  
light was low but visibility very good. I have used the high counts from my two  
trips for the final count, and I suspect the merganser totals are actually 
a  little low, because I kept finding a few more here and there, but I also 
think  more may have come into the lake after my first time  out. I finally 
found 2 of the Ruddy Ducks, so one  more species to add.  
But after I left the spot where I found most of the ducks and  made my next 
stop, I was barely out of the car when the "hurricane" hit. I  estimate 60 
mph winds from zero in about 1 minute. And every gull on the lake  blew by 
me in one big scrambled flock.  
I gave up on extending my count, because there were ducks  scattering in 
all directions. But to prove the adage that "It's an ill wind that  blows no 
good", the next bird that blew by behind the gulls was a sub-adult Bald  
Eagle. I haven't seen one in the area in months. I also had A Red-tail and a  
Red-shoulder (In my yard, about 150 yards from the lake).
I saw no sign of the Greater Black-backed Gull(s) or the loon  today but  I 
did see something I've never seen  before. The south end  of the lake was 
still almost solidly frozen, but as  I sat and watched, in about 5 minutes 
the white caps blowing in completely  shattered the ice sheet and the surface 
of the lake was covered with small  shards of ice, which all disappeared in 
the next 15 minutes. There is still a  little ice in the northeast cove.
Coventry lake, Final Count, 12-18-16
Ring-billed  Gull                                         104
Herring  Gull                                                 13
Mute  Swan                                                   9
Canada  Geese                                           61
Hooded  Merganser                                   69
Common  Merganser                                102
Ring-necked  Duck                                       5
Gadwall                                                         2
Mallard                                                            91
Ruddy  Duck                                                  2
Bald Eagle  (sub-adult)                                1
Red-tailed  Hawk                                           1
Red-shouldered  Hawk                               2

Don Morgan
Coventry, Ct


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