December 7th was apparently the official first day of winter in my area, as it was the day of our first small yet wintery snowfall. I decided to enjoy the "back way" around Moreau Lake on such a sunny (but bitterly cold) day.
Anyway, it's list time! This was a great day for birding, and writing out the entire walk (I made it all the way out to Mud Pond and back around the main path by the Nature Center) would take soooo long. Here's what I heard and/or saw:
6 American goldfinches
3 tufted titmice
10 white-breasted nuthatches
3 red-breasted nuthatches
3 blue jays
52 black-capped chickadees
45 Canada geese flyover from Rt 9 area to land by first phragmites stand
3 ducks flying away, possibly mallards
hooded merganser pair...I was hearing gulping sounds from the lake at first, and unfamiliar with the call, it sounded like bullfrogs in summer
20 dark-eyed juncos
6 male mallards, 7 female mallards
3 American black ducks - you may note I was having some trouble telling them apart from mallards, but this time I got to see both species side-by-side in the bright sun, and it was obvious. The black ducks were much darker, duller, had grey faces and that dark grey crown. Mallard females have a really robust-chestnut or rufous brown on them compared! The black ducks also had bright yellow bills and the mallards had orange.
1 male American black duck x mallard hybrid
red-tailed hawk - I seemed to have spooked the hawk from it's perch in a tree in the camping area, as it flew off, causing me to gasp with wonder and amazement, and then it called! It was the highlight of this trip for me.
1 golden-crowned kinglet - I never found it, but heard it calling. I am not all that familiar with these birds, but have spent plenty of time listening to their calls so I'd be familiar, and the call with right on.
4 mourning doves
250 canada geese sitting in a row on the lake by the phrag stand when they were finally finished flying in overhead. It was a sight to see, and you could hear them no matter where you were around the lake.
1 northern cardinal
1 female common merganser swimming on the lake by herself
I had a good laugh watching a chickadee sitting in some reeds. It probably thought it was getting good shelter from the trees hanging over, but the breeze was blowing and the branches still had snow on them...the chickadee who was diligently watching me got hit in the head by falling snow! It shook it's head, looked all around, called "chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee" and then flew off. I was also psyched in this area to find muskrat scat on a large rock. A book I have calls it a "post office" which I find amusing.
Also notable, and this happens every time when I come back up from Moreau Lake State Park, I saw about 25 rock doves sitting on the wires at the Exit 18 corridor. They are completely undisturbed by the high level of traffic going on under them.