Morning Glory at Netley-Libau Marsh (MB009)

Charlie McPherson, IBA Caretaker for Netley-Libau Marsh shares this mornings tales of migrating birds… 

As I left for Warner Rd. (two miles from my house in Whytewold)  this morning a flock of some 30 crying gulls were flying over.  And when I got to Warner Rd., “Oh my! I guestimate 1000 scattered about on the ice as far as the binocs could see with another several thousand winging their way north as singles and small flocks averaging 10 – 50 at a time from 6:30 am – 7:30 am – all coming out of the Netley-Libau Marsh (MB IBA009) to the beach ridge separating the marsh from the lake, all following the lake’s shoreline north, all crying, a small contingent of Franklin Gulls being a part of this gull migration.  T’was very worth hearing and seeing..

Another thing worth seeing and hearing was the Tree Swallows migrating as singles, doubles, groups of 3 or four, ten etc… Their twittering tips one off to their presence although they’re easily spotted overhead. And with, and before, and behind them, hundreds of grackle and blackbird migrating as singles, doubles, and groups of 10, 20, 50, 100 etc…

As per usual, the migration stalls within 2- 3 hours of first light.

Conditions were a complete overcast sky, slight breeze (NW) and slight drizzle to start, document page getting whimpy wet,  lake ice a blotchy mix of light grey and white to crystallized, waterlogged  dark grey, shore pond size not bad, fingers cold to freezing cold. For a moment, a one inch square of orange broke through the cloud cover on the eastern horizon hinting of a rising sun but only for a minute before being swallowed up  – a one  inch square on a 16″x32″ canvas were I to pull out my paints and paint it, cupped drake Pintail dropping in for a splash in the foreground of course.

Strikingly handsome Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers dropped in for a visit and worked the shoreline shallows just out front. Small flocks of Pintail, Green-winged Teal, and a first flock (for me this year) of equally strikingly handsome Canvasback dropped in as well, as did a flock of about 200 Mallards. These guys (the Mallards) were very wary doing their 3-4 passes, circling ever lower,  before committing to a touch down.  5 Wood Ducks (4 M, 1F) worked the shoreline off in the distance.

Today’s Tally:

Gulls: (aprox: 3000)
Franklin: 32

Can. Goose: 16
Pintail: 11
Mallard 217
Bufflehead: 24
Wood Duck: 6
Wigeon: 3
Green-winged Teal: 16
Shovelor: 1
Goldeneye: 7
Ring-necked Duck: 7
Canvasback: 16
Lesser Scaup: 2
Just Ducks: approx.: 100

Common Merg: 6
Red-br. Merg: 6
Hooded Merg: 2

Robin: 1
Grackle and Blackbirds: (aprox: 700)
Flicker: 1
Tree Swallow: 42
Dickie-birds: 7 (:

Killdeer: 1 (singing – if you can call it that.)

Greater Yellowlegs: 8
Wilson’s Snipe: 2

Great-blue Heron: 1

Magpie: 2
Crow: 14

Raven: 1