Left the house around 10:30AM to begin checking local lakes for Black Scoter (one of my most wanted Kent Co. ticks in the waterfowl category). But since I live in Montcalm, I've made a habit of checking my local Montcalm large lake: Whitefish Lake daily, and this morning was no exception. First duck I saw was a White-winged Scoter (after an absence of 2 days since seeing 1 and possibly 2 of these 3 days ago (see http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S9227889). I quickly realized there weren't a lot of ducks present due to the duck hunters chasing them around. But a scan to the south revealed a single, white-cheeked duck, in with 3 Common Goldeneyes, which was larger than them. Body size ruled out the last contender: Ruddy Duck, and sure enough, I had found my target bird within 10 minutes of leaving the house. Here is the checklist, with photos of both scoters: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S9260032 . For those looking to chase here is the map with access points and approximate locations of the scoters as of 11AM.All of this made me believe I had a good shot of finding Black Scoter in Kent as well: there must have been an influx last night as these birds were not present the past 2 days and the dreary, rainy weather is good at 'knocking down' migrants. But I planned on having to reach Kent Co.'s larger lakes, such as Lincoln Lake and Wabasis Lake in order to maximize my chances for this rare sea duck. But astonishingly, only 1.5 miles away I found ANOTHER Black Scoter on a much smaller lake: Sand Lake. Sand Lake is bisected by the Kent/Montcalm Co. line, and almost all of the time the Aythya flock (primarily Ring-necked Ducks) are on the north shore of the lake, well within Montcalm. At first this is indeed where the scoter was, but it quickly flew south, and swum to within 50-60 feet of the Kent shore! Even the Ring-necked Ducks rarely if ever do this, so my luck was out of control today. (side note: had this not happened I was prepared to grab my kayak and attempt to push the bird into Kent, fortunately I didn't have to do this). This map shows the location of the county line, as well as where I saw the Black Scoter. I took this video clip to show conclusively that the bird was in Kent Co., from the locations labelled on the map (note the peninsula which will be visible in the background of the video clip):Here is the Kent Co. checklist with photo: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S9260054
and a better video clip for ID purposes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn3bMD4cyxI
What a day! Heading back out to check Lincoln Lake as we speak, who knows what I'll find on a day like this.