I wanted to pass this news along from Kacy at the Nature Conservancy at Lake Martin:
I thought you might be interested in the attached photo and recent sighting of a White-winged Scoter in Lake Martin. Matt Pardue (our Land Steward) and I saw him last week, but Matt couldn’t make a certain ID and went back out today to go get him. This is a very unusual sighting and the first recorded White-winged Scoter on Lake Martin.
In other bird news, the Great Egrets are arriving late this year. At least, we hope that they are arriving. So far, I have not seen any large groups, but we had had a report of one group leaving in the early morning. When Matt and I went out last week to work on the rookery boundary, I was encouraged to see a good population of nesting Great Blue Herons- there were 30 to 40 treetop nests in the middle of the rookery area (where we would expect them), along with their nest tree mates, Neotropic Cormorants. We also saw about 10 pairs of Black-crowned Night-Herons in the north rookery area (they seem to prefer that over their old nesting area in the north end of the lake). I will let you know when the birds begin to arrive in numbers.
This year, we are going to begin to gather a baseline set of data with early morning point counts for the rookery. The scenario will basically be three people set up in three different places, 30 minutes before sunrise, either once or twice per week for eight weeks beginning in the middle of March. We will count fly-overs for an hour. It will be an annual effort after this year. In this way, we will be able to accurately estimate if numbers are increasing or decreasing from year to year. We will not be able to achieve an actual hard number for the birds in the rookery, but feel it will help immensely with estimations. Please let me know if you might be interested in helping with this effort.
All my best, -Kacy