Went out to Lake Crabtree to try out the new spotting scope. Works great on distant waterfowl on the lake! Now I just need more exciting waterfowl than Canadian geese and ring-billed gulls.
A mystery bird went overhead, and now I’m stumped. Whatbird.com is down, or I’d be there–the guides aren’t helping much, largely because I don’t even know where to start, and even if I did, I saw the bird in the air, and not on the ground.
The bird was flying overhead. It had a dark bill that ran up to a black head, no visible crest, with white cheeks and throat. The body and wings appeared grey. Can’t remember much about the tail, don’t think the legs were visible. It had a long, pointed, fairly solid beak, medium-shape, not bowed out like a kingfisher or bowed in like a sandpiper, but very prominent, not like a little finchy beak or anything. Wings were short and broad and it flapped very rapidly, so that when it changed direction, it looked like it was windmilling wildly in the air. It made a call that was kind of short and staccato chrk-chrk-chrk-chrk as it flew–a little slower than a chatter, per se, but still a fairly rapid series of sounds. It was not in the trees when I spotted it, but went over water and land, and flew for a very long way as I watched, before I lost sight of it over the lake.
Size was difficult to determine because it was in the air, but definitely smaller than a seagull, but larger than a starling.
The only things that look even close to right are the terns, and we’re way inland, and I don’t think their wings are that short.
Edit: Sorry, short neck, not like a duck.