November 12, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Gadwalls and late Swallows

I did a quick check of the big farm pond on Bell's Lane early this afternoon, and had a couple big surprises. Of course the usual Coots and Ruddy ducks (8 - 10 of each) were there, but I also saw two Gadwalls (male and female) for the first time this season. (They are rather plain ducks with dark rumps and a pronounced forehead.) Then I was stunned to see a Swallow skimming along the water, climbing to join another one circling the pond 100 or so feet up. It was all brown on top with a white belly, dusky upper breast, and dark, square-tip tail. I was almost certain it was a Northern Rough-winged swallow until I checked with YuLee and Allen Larner after I got home, and learned that young Tree swallows are almost identical. Tree swallows migrate south much later than other swallows (and return north earlier), so that's what they probably were. Even so, it is very late in the season! The latest date that species has ever been seen in this area was November 15, in 2002.

On Friday morning behind the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad, I spotted a Golden-crowned kinglet for the first time this season.