Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Scoter and more!

     Monday night (the 21st) a local birder and friend messaged me a photo of a duck.  She knew what it was, but wanted confirmation. It was, indeed, a female-type Black Scoter! (female-type refers to the plumage of the bird. Females and young of both sexes looks similar and from less-than-great photos, it's hard to tell them apart)
     I congratulated her on the find and set plans to chase it the next morning! Luckily, she found it on Flathead Lake, at Boettcher Park in Polson. Just a easy 55 mile drive away! I have only seen one Black Scoter before (a female-type also) on the Creston pond in 2014 so this was pretty exciting!

Boettcher Park, polson, flathead lake, boetcher park
Boettcher Park dock - Flathead Lake
     I arrived at the park at 8:14am on Tuesday the 22nd and without even getting out of the car, I spotted the scoter near the dock. A quick look through the windshield with binoculars confirmed it! Success! I got my gear and walked out to the end of the dock. The bird swam a little farther away, leading to sub-par photos of the scoter.

Black scoter, scoter, black scoter montana
Black Scoter
     Watching the bird dive and retrieve food was very encouraging.  Sometimes when a bird is so far out of its normal range/habitat, it can have trouble finding food and may starve.  After getting a lot of great looks at the scoter through the scope, I walked around the park looking for other birds.

     There were 4 Bald Eagles in the park, and one immature bird even made a pass at the scoter! Luckily, it was woefully unsuccessful. Many Canada Geese were in the area, and Eurasian Collared-Doves, European Starlings, and Northern Flickers were moving about in the trees of the park. I found 3 Song Sparrows in the brush just outside the park fence.  Check out my full list of birds for the park HERE

3 of the 4 Bald Eagles present

a portion of the Canada Geese at the park

one of the Song Sparrows

     I left Boettcher Park and headed back north; I did after all, have work to go to.  I made a quick stop at Elmo Bay along Flathead Lake to look for more wayward seabirds and not one minute after arriving I spotted some! 4 White-winged Scoters! I snapped a terrible photo using my phone through the spotting scope and just in time! The birds promptly took off, flying east out of sight.  You can see my full checklist and photo of the scoters HERE

elmo, flathead lake, elmo montana, elmo bay
Elmo Bay - Flathead Lake

     Each scoter were yearbirds for me; bringing my 2016 total to 333 species! Another cool thing is now I have seen all three north american scoter species on Flathead Lake this year!

     You never know what birds might show up, and that is always exciting!

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