Duck ID Day
Sunday, Jan 10, 2016
Our 2nd Duck ID Day in as many months began as it normally does – with a stop at Lake Julian. We were lucky that our very first duck of the day was a beautiful drake Common Goldeneye, a bird not so common in these parts, with only a handful of winter records every year. Everyone got a look before it flew off to a different area of the lake. Viewing from the park, we spotted a single American Black Duck, another species that can be difficult to find in the mountains. Other than the 2 previously mentioned species, there wasn’t much around, so we spent some time looking at the differences between wild-type and domestic-type Mallards. Domesticated Graylag Geese and Muscovy were also in no short supply, and the Egyptian Goose that randomly showed up last year seems to be a permanent fixture.
We then made our way south to Henderson County, where we found lots of Hooded Mergansers, several Buffleheads and 1 Greater Scaup (yet another good duck for the mountains) at the Mills River WTP. The water levels at Lake Osceola in Hendersonville were lower than normal and the usual Gadwall were nowhere to be found! We did, however, find the continuing Snow Goose, a group of gorgeous Green-winged Teal, and Northern Shoveler. At Four Seasons Marsh we found the missing Gadwall, plus Ring-necked Ducks, a few Wood Ducks, and more Hooded Mergansers and Bufflehead.
After lunch back in Mills River, we finished the day in eastern Buncombe County. Owen Park only had Mallards, so we headed over to Lake Tomahawk in Black Mountain, where we found the lake almost totally without water! Along with Mallards, we had 1 male Hooded Merganser and another Greater Scaup concentrated in a small puddle. We finished our first day trip of the year with 15 species of ducks and geese (35 species total).