As the season of fall approaches, those of us who have access to the many waterways of our county such as Lake Erie, along with possible access to some of the smaller interior lakes such as Chautauqua Lake, Bear Lake and others, will very shortly begin to observe the fall and winter arrival of these water dwelling species. Data gathered from prior years' observations and the former Chautauqua County Bird Hotline, have identified 62 species of waterfowl sighted within our counties borders. Of these 62, The Red-throated Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Northern Gannet, and the American White Pelican, along with the Eared Grebe have been observed on rare occasions in our area providing a treat for local bird enthusiasts..
Starting with the Red-throated Loon, this bird has been observed sporadically over the years from the end of October through mid May. It is primarily a spring migrant in our county, with occasional appearances from mid-October to the end of the year. It has on occasion outnumbered the Common Loon over the years along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Colleagues of mine from the Buffalo Ornithological Society report this bird flying along the North shore of Lake Erie before heading south across the lake to wintering sites along the Atlantic coast.
Moving on to the Common Loon, that species has been observed many years by members of the Lake Erie Bird Club, with over 10,000 birds having been reported on annual Christmas bird counts from the club, the Jamestown Audubon Society and Peterson Institute members.
Red Necked Grebe
The Red-necked Grebe arrives on our county's northern shores around mid to late October and remains until late April. It is one of five species of Grebes observed in our county. Ornithologists recommend that more census studies take place during the winter months in hopes of collecting more accurate local winter data on this bird for better information on this bird in our area.
The next bird is the Northern Gannet, with only three local sightings reported, two in mid December and one in late April. This bird normally breeds in Iceland and other northern habitats. There are only three county reports of this species - one in late April and two in mid December several years ago.
The final species to be highlighted in this article is the rare appearance of an American Pelican that has appeared in the Dunkirk Harbor on two occasions. These birds were observed and photographed by several local birders including yours truly several years ago.
In 1974 state records reported sighting of this bird off the coast of Long Island and one sighting occurred here in Chautauqua County with photographs taken by Bob Peterson and several other members of the Lake Erie Bird Club. Local ornithologists believe that more Western New York sightings are possible and should be watched for on the Great Lakes especially Lake Erie.
Attached photos include Four White Pelicans by Bob Peterson. Photos of the Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe and the Red-throated Loon are submitted photos. Article suggestions, photographs and data may be submitted to me electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular U.S.mail to 38 Elm St. Fredonia, N.Y. 14063. Thank you.