I spent a few hours today out at the local waterways participating in the NYS Annual Winter Duck count. While out at Greenwood Lake I met up with a birding friend and helped him with our county tally. It was very windy, and the open water had white caps. It was difficult to see much. Yesterday there were two large rafts of Common Mergs, totaling over 500 birds, today they were gone. We did get a few species, Common Merg being one, Ruddy Duck, Ruffle Head, Mallard, Ring-Necked, Gadwall, Hooded Merg,Canada Goose and Mute Swans. My friend tallied a few more species from other locations. I came up empty handed at my other locations. Although I enjoyed seeing the ducks, and plan to get out again tomorrow to look at them again, what I really loved seeing was a gorgeous 4th year Bald Eagle who was flying all around us at the lake. He was so close that it took my breath away to watch him. My friend had to remind me that we were there to count ducks!
There is something just so magical about raptors for me. I don't know where the obsession with them came from, maybe it was my Grandpa Scott taking me to see my first Bald Eagle. Up until then I hadn't been exposed to very many raptors on suburban Long Island. When my grandparents retired they moved down to Punta Gorda FL, which was pretty rural back in the 70s. I went down to visit them and grandpa took me across the street to see the eagles nest. There was a Juvenile eaglet in the nest and a adult sitting on the side. I was awestruck. It is a memory burned in my head. I get the same feeling every time I lay my eyes on a Raptor. How wonderful of a lifetime memory for me. My grandpa will forever live on in my head and heart for showing me those eagles. At that time there were less then 1000 breeding pairs in the US, I felt blessed to have the experience. That quest to have amazing wildlife experiences continues today. After the duck count I grabbed my dobe boy and headed up in to the park to look for saw whet owls with no luck, but it was so wonderful to spend so much time outside today. I feel completely content. I love being out in nature, and realize after such a beautiful day, I need more of it, especially in the winter. I have to make my life so that I spend more time doing what I've always loved, and less time living online. I'm looking forward to my FB break.