Saturday, February 7, 2015
|View from the WPT|
On a sub-zero day in January 2015, I drove the WPT east to the shores of bone-chilling Lake Michigan to see just what ducks were there. It was overcast, gray and windy as I pulled up in the parking lot of the water station and strapped on my gear. I was dressed in layers to help fight the cold, but my hands were having a tough time with the gloves I had chosen. Mittens would have been smarter; but using a camera with no finger dexterity is difficult. I waded through a freshly falled amount of powder and approached the lake. Ice had formed to within 10 yards of the shore in chaotically layered islands. A slow but determined wave motion sloshed up into small "bays" and cuts in the ice pack. I needed to be extremely careful not to slip; but even more wary not to blunder into a disguised mini-gorge and into the ice water. There was virtually no one who would ever hear any pleas for help. The only other person I saw was one of those psycho-runners tip-toeing on the icy public sidewalk near Lakeshore Drive...and I thought I was nuts.
|Ooh boy it's cold!|
The predominant avian form seen this day was the Common goldeneye. 1. "Among Common Goldeneyes pair formation begins in midwinter, and until then the two sexes often form separate flocks. Indeed, males winter farther north than do the females. During its courtship display, the male stretches his head forward along the water and then snaps it rapidly upward over his back, bill pointed skyward, while uttering a shrill, two-noted call. Then he swings his orange feet forward, sending up a small shower in front of him. The wings of this species produce a loud whistling sound in flight, easily identified even when the birds cannot be seen; hunters call this species the "Whistler." Goldeneyes can dive to depths of 20 feet (6 meters) or more, but generally limit themselves to about 10 feet (3 meters). In winter, goldeneyes feed mainly on mollusks; in summer, their diet shifts to aquatic plants and insects.
|Lake Michigan shoreline in January|
1. Source: Boreal Birds.com about the Common Goldeneye