With temperatures hovering a few degrees above freezing and winds gusting from the NW at 20+ knots, conditions seemed perfect for a substantial loon flight this morning. The 20+ Cayuga Bird Club members and observers who arrived at Taughannock State Park around dawn were not disappointed. Dividing into two watch stations; the traditional location at the confluence of Taughannock Creek with Cayuga Lake and another approximately 100 yards south along the lake shoreline, observations were started 15 minutes before sunrise (6:31 AM). Over the course of the next two hours approximately 2,200 Common Loons were observed…….plus one Red-throated Loon. Using 15 minute intervals, two distinct flights were observed. Birds from Cayuga Lake were believed to comprised the first flight, with there numbers declining by 7:15 AM. A second flight, presumed from Lake Ontarion, began to arrive around 7:30 AM with numerous waves of 60 to 70 birds arriving from the NNE just below the cloud cover. This flight continued for approximately 45 minutes. A summary of the counts from the south watch station follows: 6:30 AM - 19; 6:45 AM - 75; 7:00 AM - 277; 7:15 AM - 57; 7:30 AM - 151; 7:45 AM - 218; 8:00 AM - 102; 8:15AM - 10; 8:30 AM - 27; and 8:45 AM - 14. Count total = 958. The reported count for the traditional location was 1,200. One observer noted that there where too many birds to count! On that note, I would say it was a very successful Loon Watch. Thanks to all who participated (and to the loons) and let’s try to keep this great traditional alive in future years.
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