Monday, February 12, 2018

Gloomy Monday morning mergs

A surprisingly chilly but heavy overcast Monday morning would have dimmed birding hopes. Yet a Merganser observation brightens the moment dissipating the air of moodiness.

As raindrops pelted my unprotected garments,I sought shelter at the West Island gazebo. I was surprised I was the only occupant. From my dry spot,I scanned the lake waters of Prospect. At first I almost passed the drab distant profiles of hen HOODED MERGANSERS; then the drakes appeared. Feeding along the phragmites of western Three Sisters island,all told,six "Hoodies" dove frequently there.

After awhile at my stand,I picked up a pair of American WIGEON,a distant hen BUFFLEHEAD and the usual suspects before picking up and going. ( Later the Hooded flock split into threes,to reside near Duck and Three Sisters Islands)

But there was another merganser. Along the west shore,something dove. And I thought all the ducks here are dabblers. It turns out when "diver" resurfaced, to be the RED BREASTED MERGANSER hen very close. I was wondering what's the deal here: drake one day,hen another,then once in awhile both.

I wound up with eight duck species, not bad for gloomy Monday.When the sun came out mid-afternoon and I wandered back out,I picked up the Drake WOOD DUCK ,trying to wade through the big bodies of Canada Geese ,roadblocks for the little guy.

A short visit to the feeders found minimal activity. Only a White breasted nuthatch was of note. But there's a subtle change though. Two White throated sparrows are sporting bright heads now,a head start for spring romance. So maybe that groundhog was wrong after all, spring is arriving early.

A last good bird before I exited the park turned out to be a hawk. Specifically,an adult COPPERS HAWK ,preening itself as it perched in the Sweetgums Grove between the gazebo and West Island. This is a preferable spot for me to stop for potential winter finches. They weren't there,no thanks to the handsome Coop.

Oh,Happy Birthday Abe.