Posted by: atowhee | October 27, 2007

Emigrant Lake: things were ducky despite the wind

vg-bufflehead.jpgThree trips to Emkigrant Lake this week.  The first yielded only Coots and land birds.  Singing Western Meadowlarks on a sunny day were welcomed.  At the same time scores of Lesser Goldfinches were harvesting the thistle seeds and a quintet of Western Bluebirds were flycatching from overhead power lines.  Hawks seen: Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Kestrel and a Sharp-shinned motoring between one group of trees and another.  A Blue Heron hunting on the mudflats that are thirty feet below the old high-water mark on the resevoir. Ravens about, even on the windy day.  One time they walked about the mudflats, fionding something of interest.  A few Yellow-rumped Warblers, RC Kinglets, Golden-crowned and Song Sparrows, Spotted Towhee, Brewer’s and Red-winged Blackbirds, Acorn and Downy Woodpeckers.   In a quiet little cove a Belted Kingfisher rattled away the minute he caught sight of my hatted head above the brush line.

Canada Geese in large numbers. One field was being grazed by over 300.  A young Mute Swan hid behind a mudbank and watched me and the dog this morning as I counted ducks.  They were the first I’d found at Emigrant Lake this month.  And there were suddenly a lot of them.  Well, actually, a few Common Mergansers are always about, year-round residents.  Mallards, of course, but they are like Rock Doves, right?   But the other ducks had not been here before that I had noticed.  Ruddy Duck and Shoveler and Bufflehead in modest numbers.  Then a two hundred yard long skein of Wigeon and Lesser Scaup.  On the beach were dozens of Ring-billed Gulls and a loafing gang of Double-crested Cormorants.  Where had they been on my earlier visits? Today was very windy, but the wind was blowing up from California.  I couldn’t imagine it had carried in the ducks.  Perhaps they were heading southweard and the head-wind led them to stop?  I’ll find out next time I visit.

That great Bufflehead male photo is by Len Blumin, one of the few pics that I’ve ever seen which shows that brilliant voilet-green head.


  1. Hi Harry and we love your blog comments–it is almost like we are there with you. Thanks for keeping in touch, even at a long distance. We must have miss out on your explanation of why the move away from the Bay Area and why you selected your present home. You can be sure that we all miss you. Our 9 feeders are filled almost all of the time and the quail have shared their multiple babies (getting large by the moment) with us daily. Still getting lots of lesser goldfinches and a few American goldfinches. Sparrows have arrived in flocks–mostly golden crowned. Toby and Bill Gottfried

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