Monday, March 22, 2010

Hanging with the Mergansers

Sunday was a day off from running, but I managed to put in several miles of hiking around my neighborhood. I needed to check out the open water on my lake again. I actually walked out there twice, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. Again, there were numerous birds gathering here, mostly from the merganser family, and it was a beautiful 50 degree and sunny day to watch them.

I got to witness one of the coolest things - the hooded merganser courtship. In all my years of watching birds, I have never seen this in person. The males puff up their crests, throw their heads back, and make this funny, frog-like croaking sound in an attempt to woo the females. Lots of posturing going on, kind of like the bird equivalent of a college bar on a Saturday night. The male mergansers were busy putting on a show and chasing each other around while the females looked on, seemingly unimpressed. Spectacular! What a treat to be able to see this.

New arrivals on Sunday included a solitary bufflehead (he was hanging out with the hooded mergansers), a flock of tundra swans flying overhead (a couple dozen in a perfect "V" formation), and of course, the common grackle (easily overlooked, but cute in their own right).

A few photos from yesterday's bird hike - no pictures of outstanding quality, but you can at least tell what they are.

Hooded mergansers swimming in the open water near the ice shelf



A pair of mallards



"RETREAT!!!" ;-)



The resident eagles frolicking on the osprey nesting platform - they have pretty much claimed this spot as their hangout



Today was gorgeous, 56 degrees and sunny. Running was awesome. I did the normal weekday 5 miler and loved every second of it. This is about the perfect temperature for running. No new birds, and there were way fewer birds on the lake today. Most of the ducks had moved on, so I am thankful for yesterday's opportunity.

Until next time,

Jean
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