As Spring finally gets started, some birds are visiting for awhile and then moving north while others stay. Some now have returned from their winter abodes under the lake to the surface. Yes, Spring is a time of changes and warmth is coming. It is supposed to be in the 70s in the middle of the week instead of in the 40s as it was in the last few days of April.
While this picture was taken before the ice went out, this Northern Shoveler pair had a stop-over before heading further north. This duck often is seen in large numbers on its wintering areas. They have a very large, oversized bill and the male has a large chestnut patch on its side. They are found all across the country but these were the first I had seen on our lake. Keep your eyes out for them but they do tend to like swampy areas and probably won’t be seen on the lake, itself.
Another bird I had not seen is the Green Winged Teal that is seen between these two Mallards. The teal is also seen in great numbers on its wintering grounds but heads farther north to nest. Again, I had never seen one of these on our lake so it just happened to stop by for re-fueling, again when there was still some ice around.
Now, you can see these Common Mergansers (seen with a Mallard in this picture) around the lake. The male is a very handsome duck with the black head, white body and red bill. The female has much less dramatic coloring because she has to sit on the nest and not be seen. Better to look like a gray rock and ignored by predators than stick out like a sore thumb. The males are only around in April and May as after they mate, they head back to the salt water leaving the females to raise the ducklings. (Doesn’t seem quite fair……)
Above and below are Hooded Mergansers. The male is very dramatic and the female not so much but, in her own way is very elegant. Her light brown crest is very distinctive. Again, the female has much less dramatic coloring because of her role as nest sitter.
The picture shown below is of an elegant duck that nests here, the Wood Duck. The male has wonderful coloring and the female (seen to the right) is very drab but does have a prominent eye ring. A pair Wood Ducks was recently seen investigating nesting spots (they nest in hollow trees) and were headed inland from the North Beach on Stamp Act. Yes, these might be some of the nesting birds that are associated with the closing of the North Beach until July 1st.
There are also eagles flying through. The picture, below, shows what is probably a three year old bird. They look like they haven’t quite figured out what to have as feather color and will only get the adult plumage in their fifth year. The tail is not really white and has black at the ends of the tail feathers. A four year old bird will have a much whiter tail but will also have a black band at the tips of the feathers. This particular eagle had another eagle flying with it of similar age based on its coloration. These young eagles will most likely have to stay well away from the Stamp Act nesting pair that seems to have at least one chick. A brooding eagle was seen before the ice went out and now the behavior seems to indicate that there has been hatching. Last year, where were a few of these juveniles hanging out around the lake and while they may not be as dramatically colored as the adult birds, they are still amazing to watch.
And finally, the painted turtles are coming out of the mud and getting warm in the sun. This picture shows just one in the Warren Brook swamp area but in another spot there were a couple of dozen pulled out on the shore basking in the sun. It is interesting that even when the ice has just melted and the water is still very cold, the turtles are able to crawl out and bask in the sun. Because they are cold blooded, this is the way that they get warm which speeds up their metabolism so they can grow and reproduce. Yes, spring is coming……..