More Spring Birding in the Lake Champlain Region

A follow-up trip

After my successful trip last weekend to the Champlain Valley, I wanted to follow-up to see what I could find as the migration continued to push birds along the lake. While the ducks at Crown Point were once again my main target, I wanted to see what else was around. I started my day at the Westport boat launch like usual. I scanned the water and found a string of Common Loons on their way to northern lakes, as well as a few Horned Grebes and a few scattered ducks – mostly Bufflehead.

Vesper Sparrows and Red-necked Grebes!

The view from above the wastewater treatment plant offered similar results, and I drove south to explore Dudley Road on my way to Port Henry and Crown Point. As I drove through Camp Dudley I flushed a few sparrows along the road near the camp bus parking lot. At least two of them had white outer tail feathers – Vesper Sparrows. I stopped and counted a total of three Vespers as well as a few Song Sparrows in the mix. It is the time of year for Vespers on their way north, and I was happy to find them.

Vesper Sparrow

I went a few hundred meters to Cole Bay where I stopped again – this time to scan the water, but I was initially distracted by newly arrived Chipping Sparrows and a singing Pine Warbler. As with the boat launch, there were lots of Common Loons on the water. There were also a bunch of Horned Grebes and I counted 18 in all. Of more interest were 3 Red-necked Grebes which stayed pretty much together amidst the Horned Grebes and loons. I also found a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers.

Pine Warbler

I continued south to search for birds around Port Henry – despite my finds the previous week, I had missed the Tufted Duck which had been seen from the Port Henry beach. After a short stop at the public boat launch, I went to the beach where a small contingent of gulls and my first Caspian Terns of the season sat on the small sandy spit. I also spotted a Cooper’s Hawk in the trees around the shoreline. But there were no ducks on the water – save a few Bufflehead. As I scanned across Bulwagga Bay I could once again see a load of ducks over at Crown Point, and so I headed that way.

Still lots of ducks at Crown Point

I had been concerned when I decided to come down to the valley that the extraordinarily nice day would entice lots of boaters out, thereby frightening the ducks, and unfortunately for me my fears were not unfounded. Just as I arrived at Fossil Rock to view the ducks, a fishing boat drove into Crown Point and chased up at least half of the birds on the water. They flew in dense, overlapping lines south into Bulwagga Bay. I swept through them with my binoculars as rapidly as I could, but they were soon out of sight. I didn’t get through many of them and didn’t find anything of note in my hurried, flustered scan of the fast moving birds.

Bufflehead 

I quickly began scoping the remaining ducks on the water for fear that they, too, might take off. It was good that I did. Perhaps 15 minutes after the first boat a second boat – this time a speed boat – drove through the ducks and chased about half of those left. Ugh. Frustrated though I was, I still found a nice assortment of species even with the departure of so many ducks. In all I spotted 14 species of waterfowl including American Wigeon, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Wood Duck, Ring-necked Duck, both species of scaup, and Common Goldeneye, and I stayed for a spell as I picked through the remaining birds since decent numbers still lurked along the shoreline of flooded trees.

I had hoped some of the displaced ducks might return from the marshy dead-end of Bulwagga Bay, but when none of them did I moved on. My departure timing wasn’t all bad at that – as I drove out Crown Point Peninsula, a Peregrine Falcon dashed across the fields sending up European Starlings and Rock Pigeons. I never saw if it succeeded in catching any.

Peregrine Falcon - Larry

Since I had left Crown Point a little earlier than I had initially planned, I used the extra time to take a quick spin through the Magic Triangle on my way home. It was largely quiet, but I found 2 more Vesper Sparrows as well a few Savannah Sparrows – the first I’ve had there this spring. A calling Ring-necked Pheasant rounded out my time in the Triangle and I found another 2 Vespers along the edge of a field along Route 22 as I drove home. I always like seeing Vesper Sparrows.

Species and numbers can change daily during the spring, so don’t delay in planning your spring birding trip. Check out our lodging, dining, and outdoor recreation pages to learn more!

Treasure Hunting in Ticonderoga
The NY/VT 5K Champlain Bridge Run