Noting that the forecast was for winds from the north, this morning I made the 
most minimal investment in a Loon Watch by dressing warmly and walking out at 
dawn to the NYS-89 bridge over Ithaca’s Flood Control Channel near my back 
yard. During an hour of observation (0630-0730) I saw at least 22 and possibly 
26 Common Loons. 

The first quarter hour had no detectable loons, but at 0651 I found my first 
lone loon, winging its way south but surprisingly far to my east, seemingly 
over Cornell. A minute later, 3 loons flew south over downtown Ithaca. And at 
0656 four Common Loons flew south high up directly overhead, for a total of 8 
in the second quarter hour.  

This trend continued during the third quarter hour with 3 groups of loons, 
totaling 15, flying south but on a path which shifted west. These groups 
disappeared from view behind the trees on West Hill as they flew, so I moved 
farther east on the bridge, but I saw no more southbound migrants. The last 
groups were also very hard to see naked-eye, being light below against a bright 
sky. Maybe that was the end of the morning’s migration, or maybe the flow 
continued beyond my view and more directly south from Taughannock Falls SP. 

During the final quarter hour I saw two lone loons flying north over downtown 
and a duo over West Hill flying northeast as if turning back north, which I 
called a total of 4.

I decided to end my count after an hour, but then I couldn’t resist a final 
scope scan toward the unseen lake: I saw 2 loons flying in different directions 
at the same time.  I figured they were likely among those I had recently seen 
flying toward the lake but that they had not yet settled down. I declared my 
Loon Watch successful, and I went back indoors to warm my fingers.  

Other species seen included: 
* Canada Geese, including birds on the Flood Control Channel and flocks flying 
south but not high enough to be definite migrants.
* A few Mallards on the Flood Control Channel and a few flying north.
* Common Mergansers on the Flood Control Channel and in different sized small 
groups flying south and north. 
* Ring-billed & Herring Gulls rising off the lake, flying south over the valley 
and also southeast toward Cornell’s compost, patrolling the Flood Control 
Channel and resting upon it. 
* Rock Pigeons, the larger number flying west toward farm fields. 
* American Crows, similar pattern. 
* Red-tailed Hawk, one adult flying over West Hill just over treetop level. 
* Blue Jay, one landing in a treetop.
* American Robins flying locally, a single and a group of 3. 
* European Starlings in small numbers on local errands and resting on wires. 
* A few smaller local birds I was unable to ID in distant flight. 

- - Dave Nutter

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