I drove over to Papscanee earlier this week to see what was going on with migrating ducks. It’s a weird mix of farm fields, wetland, train tracks and industrial area. The waterfront is lined with giant oil tanks. Big trucks rumble up and down the road all day, which is the key to this story.
With this winter’s deep snowpack melting so fast, the fields on the west side of the road were flooded and flapping with ducks. On the upland side, a single Snow Goose grazed with dozens of his Canadian cousins, while a Killdeer called shrilly. Every bush had its Song Sparrow and Robins zipped back and forth. I cruised slowly down the road until I reached the wetlands. I pulled as far off the pavement as I could (not very, given soft shoulders and a car not designed for off-roading), got out as stealthily as possible, and leaned against the side of the car, elbows resting on the roof.
Duckapalooza! Over a half dozen I ID’ed right away, and more further off. I was just contemplating setting the scope up when — up drives Mr. Trooper, lights flashing. A handful of birds take off. He ‘beep-beeps’ his siren. The air is filled with wings and quacks. He gets out of his car, slamming the door. Aaannd goodbye ducks. “Good morning, ma’am,” he says. “What are you doing?”
I’m torn between “Well, I was watching the birds,” and “Playing the f*****g piano,” but I decide judiciously to reply, “The spring migration is really starting!” with a smile on my face. He tells me to park further off the road, which I can’t do without I drive one of these**, or park at the end of the road some 1/4 mile away, because the trucks will have a hard time avoiding my car. OK, so I drive off (the grin is killing me) and park at the end of the road, being sure to walk well onto the shoulder and watching all the big vehicles cross waaay over into the other lane when they see me.
Snow Goose (1), Canada Goose, Ring-billed Gull, Killdeer, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco, House Sparrow, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Crow, Black Duck, Mallard, American Wigeon, Fish Crow, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck.
21 species, 6 new to this list.
** I want one, I really do!