We counted all the Jocassee winterbirds this week, as we do on the first day of loon research each year. Here are the totals:

Common loons 115 (nothing at all common about them). That’s about the same as it’s been for the last few years.

Ring-billed gulls 127. Probably twice that many just a week or so ago.

Bonaparte’s gulls 175. The most we’ve ever seen of this spectacular gull.

Horned grebes 289. Almost always at least twice as many here as the loons.

Pied-billed grebes. 11. Usually no more than 3 or 4.

Bald eagles 3. We counted 17 on the January eagle count, but eagles come and go this time of year. We do have an active nest, for the first time in 3 years!

And you thought Lake Jocassee was just about waterfalls. Its a sanctuary for the birds of winter who share their lives with us this time of year, and a wonder for us who are graced by their presence. ~B