Bantam Lake Waterbird Update, 12/15/2011

Bantam Lake's Pt. Folly Marina photographed
by Ashley Hayes on 12/10/2011, showing
that it is still completely ice-free
Lesser Scaup photo from
Hooded Merganser photo by Bob Stanowski
Common Goldeneye photo by
Micahel Woodruff from
Bufflehead photo from
A significant increase in waterfowl migration activity has occurred at Bantam Lake in the past week. This coincides with more and more reports of ponds and portions of lakes in Vermont, upstate New York, Quebec, and Ontario icing over. Unlike last year, and many other past years, Bantam Lake was still ice-free as of this morning, 12/15/2011. Relatively mild conditions since early November are the reason for this. While several nights have seen temperatures dip into the 20's, and a couple of recent nights saw temperatures go down into the teens, this has not been enough for ice to form on the Lake. Cemetery Pond and our marshes have iced-over a few times, but they usually opened-up again when daytime temperatures climbed into the 40's. This has been great for waterfowl, as it has provided them with plenty of foraging area. Species which have increased the most in the past week have included Ring-necked Duck (43 on the 13th), Bufflehead (31 on the 13th), Common Goldeneye (35 on the 13th), Hooded Merganser (53 on the 13th), and Common Merganser (55 on the 13th). Also of note were 6 Gadwall on the 13th, 2 Northern Shovelers almost every day, 2 Northern Pintails on the 14th, 4 Lesser Scaup on the 13th, 2 White-winged Scoters on the 8th, a Long-tailed Duck on the 9th, a Ruddy Duck on the 11th, a Red-throated Loon on the 7th, Pied-billed Grebes on several days, and a Red-necked Grebe on the 11th and 12th. In addition, as many as 87 American Coots have been seen daily at the Lake's North Bay. At this point it should be noted that the vast majority of these sightings have come from N. Bay and Pt. Folly. South Bay has produced virtually nothing, and the central section has mainly yielded fish-eating divers. It should also be noted that this number and diversity of waterbirds is above average for so late in the migration season here, even in other years when the Lake has remained ice-free. This could be a product of generally mild conditions all over the northeast, more birds because of their highly successful breeding activity last summer, or an abundance of food at Bantam Lake. Most likely, it is a combination of these things. Whatever it is, we are hopeful that these birds will stay around for the Christmas Bird Count on the 18th, and that a few more will join them. As it is, all of the sightings from today are in the official count period. If you go out to look for these birds, please report your observations to ebird, and share them with the White Memorial Archives.

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