Cackling Goose, Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1,000s of birds at Budd Lake, Jan. 9, 2013

The center portion of Budd Lake is open water while the majority of the lake surface is ice. When I arrived at the lake at 3:30 this afternoon there were well over 2,000 Canada Geese (CANG) on the ice and in the water. Gull numbers were modest with 175 Ring-billed Gulls, 20 Herring and 2 Great Black-backed Gulls. 2 adult Snow Geese were obvious among the many CANG. 4 Common Mergansers seemed lost in the throng of geese. It was late in the day and skein after skein of Canada Geese streamed in from the south. Their approach and landing patterns were specific to their group and were interesting to watch. Small groups of geese started taking off towards the south concurrent with other geese coming in for a landing. Budd Lake was a veritable gooseport only without a control tower. The CANG were thick but searching methodically through the multitude finally turned up a stubby-billed, short-necked, pint-sized Cackling Goose.

The count of CANG was at 3,000 when at 4:15 in diminishing light, hundreds upon hundreds of mostly Herring Gulls started arriving from the north. They favored landing at the far side of the geese creating a long line of white and gray interspersed with an occasional dark speckle. It was these dark speckles with which I was interested. This is the time of year Lesser Black-backed Gulls turn up at Budd Lake. After spotting some Great Black-backed Gulls, one of the dark speckles revealed a beautiful adult Lesser Black-backed Gull standing in the front row of larids, its bright yellow legs readily apparent in the grayscale color scheme of ice, geese and gulls. As I left, more geese, or perhaps the same that had left earlier, continued to arrive.

The count:
Snow Goose – 2
Cackling Goose – 1
Canada Goose – 3,500 (conservative)
Mallard – 4
Common Merganser – 4
Ring-billed Gull – 200
Herring Gull – 700 (conservative)
Lesser Black-backed Gull – 1
Great Black-backed Gull – 7

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