Sunday, March 6, 2016

Spring Birding Begins! - Ducks and Geese

With temperatures heading high into the 50s today, we headed down to the Wells Lake causeway west of Faribault and saw hundreds of greater white-fronted geese as well as many common mergansers and some redheads and coots (in addition to gulls and oodles of mallards and Canada geese). The large lake has already opened up enough that all of these were hundreds of yards away and a strain to see, even through binoculars and spotting scope, so there may have been other species that we couldn't identify.

In contrast, at the Superior Drive pond in Northfield, which now has a lot of open water as well, we got some lovely views of several lesser scaup, a diving duck that is usually one of the first migrating ducks I've recorded over the past few springs (here are other posts I've written about scaup -- in the exceptionally warm spring of 2012, on March 7 the ice was almost completely out on that pond and I counted 42 scaup). Lesser scaup moving through our area are on their way to summer breeding grounds in the northern plains of Canada after wintering in the southern states, along the Gulf Coast, or maybe in Mexico.

Look at that beautiful blue beak, golden eye, and dark head shining purple in the sun.

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