Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Crescent View Chronicles--March 18, 2008

This is the first of what I hope will be a continuing series of articles chronicling seasonal changes in the wildlife of Crescent View neighborhood and adjacent areas (i.e., Crescent Lake, deciduous woodlands, marshes, and scrubby habitats) of Buchanan Township, Berrien County, Michigan.

For the first time in a while, nighttime temperatures failed to dip below freezing. We awakened to fog, overcast skies, and light mist. Crescent Lake remains mostly frozen, save for a narrow fringe of open water around the perimeter. A somewhat more extensive area of open water exists at the extreme southern (presumably shallower) end of the lake.

There, I witnessed the first major waterfowl flight (more like grounding?) of the year on Crescent Lake, or at least the first that I have witnessed). In addition to the birds that have been present off and on throughout the winter--Mute Swans (2 counted today), resident Canada Geese (28 counted today, including four pairs staking out prospective nesting territories), and Mallards (a pair noted today)--there was a nice mixed-flock of Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks (10 scaup and 17 ring-necks) and a lone American Coot, all first-of-the-year sightings for the lake. I also heard a Belted Kingfisher chattering. Other waterbirds noted on the lake this month include Great Blue Heron (on the 16th) and Killdeer (on the 13th).

Addendum: A second hike to the south end of Cresent Lake at about 5 pm produced two additional species: a pair of Wood Ducks and a male Hooded Merganser, both first-of-the-year sightings for the lake.

I also neglected to mention the daily presence of Ring-billed Gulls over the lake enroute to and from a nearby sanaitary landfill. This evening, an unending string of gulls flew over the lake in a northerly direction between 5:15 and 5:30 pm.

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