​Hi all,

 Yesterday , I too went looking for birds at IYC, but my goal was to observe 
behaviors. I arrived there and got out and from the top parking area I looked 
at the ducks in the bay and first thing I saw was TUFTED DUCK through 
binoculars. I spent some time watching it and as there was no else and I  could 
hear the ducks calling, I decided I want to record them. So I was getting ready 
with the equipment, when I saw a huge van with lots of stickers of Ibird and 
eBird  and full of Cornellites pulled ahead of me as I was still trying to get 
my recorder out. One by one all jumped out of the van some with large lenses 
and scopes, they all looked very professional. So my chance of quiet recording 
was foiled. So I decided I will stop by on the way back.

I headed up north. On the whim, I decided to go look at the Upper Taughannock  
Falls. And I was happy I did. It was an impressive sight with large pile of 
snow ice build up  and a tiny bit of water still flowing and making loud noise. 
I spent some time enjoying the view and was wondering how it would be when the 
snow melts!

Then, I headed to Sheldrake.  Sheldrake shore was littered with birds.  It 
seems that the large raft of Athya ducks have split into smaller groups all the 
way up to Varick where the ice edge is in the north.  I could see some were 
displaying, some sleeping, some diving actively and others doing nothing.  
Also, there were lots of swans all along the  edges and hundreds of Mergansers 
mostly Red-breasted and some Common.  I was looking for Red-necked Grebes and 
scoters.  I think I saw one Red-necked Grebe, which dove as soon as I saw it 
and then disappeared into water and I did not relocate it again. I also saw a 
CACKLING GOOSE among the Canada.

Then I headed to Seybolt Road in the hopes of relocating some winter rarities. 
I found several paired Horned Larks and several groups of Horned Larks feeding 
along the road. At Cayuga lake State park, I found a Merlin sitting as I passed 
by. I could not stop as another car was behind me. So I turned at a convenient 
location and headed back to get a better look at the Merlin. By the time I 
returned it was gone or I missed seeing it.

I returned the same way I had gone and stopped at the same locations to enjoy 
more of these birds. By the time I came back to IYC, which was hoping would be 
devoid of people, but there were three more cars parked. So I decided to call 
it a day.  As I was I just getting on Rt 89, I found Ann Mitchell heading 
towards IYC.

What intrigued me most is how the ducks, geese and swans sleep. Some of them 
sleep with their eyes tucked inside the feathers and others with, only beak 
tucked inside the feathers and eyes outside.  I saw several hundreds of them 
asleep in the water. But many of them were spinning around.  Something similar 
I watched on Seneca River too where the sleeping mergansers were spinning 
around. They remained almost in the same location in spite of river flowing. So 
how do they do it?  At least mergansers I could see they were paddling slowly 
in spite of sleeping.  My conclusion was probably they paddle with one feet and 
thus they rotate round and round. Same thing happens if we paddle in one 
direction only in a canoe or kayak.  Anybody has any insight about the 
mechanism? It would be cool to learn.

Also another thing which made me think was segregation of Athya ducks. How did 
they split into smaller groups? Is there any particular way they did it? Did 
the birds of the same summering/breeding location group into one group? Or was 
it  randomized? I think geese seem to have some kind of groups and when they 
are feeding or sleeping on the lake they are randomized but when they are 
taking off, specific individuals go off together. I watched this with the 
Sandhill Cranes in Bosque Del Apache as the family groups were taking off from 
the roost early morning, they would call to each other and wait for every one 
in the family to be ready to take off, mostly three or four birds and of them 
often one or two were juveniles. I have some videos of this behavior.

What fun it would be if we could geotag all the birds and learn what they are 

Now probably I am off to do some more birding!



Meena Haribal
Ithaca NY 14850
Ithaca area moths: https://plus.google.com/118047473426099383469/posts
Dragonfly book sample pages: http://www.haribal.org/dragonflies/samplebook.pdf


Cayugabirds-L List Info:

1) http://www.mail-archive.com/cayugabirds-l@cornell.edu/maillist.html
2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds
3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html

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