We set out along the Blitzen River, and soon we were in the vast expanse of the lake with birds EVERYWHERE! The idea of “counting” seemed comical. How do you count what must have been thousands of birds rising from the lake, circling, shifting?
Named after the Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, adult birds display a distinctive plumage featuring a black hood, dark gray back, and white underparts. They have a red bill, bright red legs, and a white eye ring. Outside the breeding season, their hood fades, revealing a white head with a dark smudge behind the eye. Juveniles resemble non-breeding adults but with mottled brown plumage and a dark bill.