Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 2, 2012: Erv's Field Notes #34

Hiding among the twigs, 4/28/12 (Kevin Kane)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 10-11:30 am. Beautiful sunny morning. Calm. Temperature, 70 degrees F. Severe wind and rain storm passed through the area in the early morning hours.

Parked in the lot on Harrison Ave. and saw six pairs of Canada Geese and a pair of Spotted Sandpipers on the nearby wetland. Water was flowing out of the wetlands into the south lake. I walked around the south lake and was surprised that now water was running from the outlet at the southeast corner. Then, I noticed the control gate was closed. When I got around to the north side, I saw that the outlet from the north wetlands has a beaver dam holding back the water.

Observed the following birds: More than a hundred American Coots on the lakes and wetlands, Blue-winged Teal, Shoveller, Mallard, Gadwall, Redheaded Duck, two Common Terns flying over the lake, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, Baltimore Oriole, Catbird, Robin, Brown-headed Cowbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Song Sparrow. The Purple Martins have taken over the nest box near the south wetlands and it seemed every compartment was occupied. The front of one of the compartments blew off in last night's wind storm.

Erv Klaas

In my last Field Note (#34), I reported seeing Common Terns. Wolf questioned this and asked if they were Forster's Terns. Its nice to have an expert birder to verify your observations. In this case I should have checked with him before I sent it out to everyone.

This gives me an excuse to say a little about bird identification. The Common Tern and Forster Tern are very similar in size and markings. I used to see Common Terns routinely when I lived in Maryland and the name simply jumped into my memory bank without me giving it adequate thought. Bad habit on my part.

Both of these terns share a common breeding range in the prairie provinces of southern Canada but the Common Tern is the "common" tern around the Great Lakes and on the East Coast. Forster's Tern migrates through the central U.S. from its wintering grounds along the Gulf Coast. Identifying them on the wing is nearly impossible because the field marks are hard to see.

Thanks Wolf for doing a good "tern" and helping me out.

Erv Klaas

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