Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Birding for Lunch

Yesterday I went birding for lunch at Chapman's Pond in Gainesville, where over 150 avian species have been sighted by birders who frequent the site.

My visit was rewarded in a strange way. It began to rain and wind gusts from the west drove stinging rain across the pond and right into my face. Not generally a pleasant sensation, but, having come through a Florida summer, it was nice to have a reminder of the cold weather to come, the sort of weather you tend to forget about when the temperature and humidity are in the 90's. Nice to imagine for a second that you are much farther north than where you are, and call to mind certain fond memories of a northern town or shore you visited in a former self.

Lunch was short and I had a pressing appointment. Still I managed to quickly log these species, in the driving rain on a day made for ducks:

American Bittern
Belted Kingfisher
Snowy Egret
American Egret
White Ibis
Sandhill Crane
Common Moorhen (Gallinule)
American Coot
Lesser Scaup

The Scaup I'm not positive about. There were about a dozen, all females. Most of the secondary feathers of these drab brown birds were white - observed as the birds stretched and flapped their wings as they preened in the rain. I didn't have binoculars so didn't notice the light ring around the base of the bill or other field characters. I may have to visit again today with some magnification so I can say for certain. And maybe ID the raft of ducks out on the pond I couldn't begin to identify in the misty curtains of rain. Perhaps the male counterparts to all the female scaups.

[Update: 11/23 - a fellow birder told me Lesser Scaups have been sighted at the pond in the last few days]

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