another duck bonanza

A new wave of migratory ducks landed at the St. Paul reservoir this past weekend.  A long raft of Hooded Mergansers, Common Goldeneye, and Ring-necked Ducks floated out in the middle of the lake, which is now frozen from shore to about 30-50 feet out.

Obviously too far for the telephoto lens to get any decent photos of individuals (this shot is from the shore with 100 mm telephoto).

Obviously too far for the telephoto lens to get any decent photos of individuals (this shot is from the shore with 100 mm telephoto).  

Even in the 300 yard long raft of floating ducks, each species stuck together in tight groups, which made ID-ing them easier.

A group  of Hooded Mergansers, with a larger Common Merganser male (pink-red bill) in the back.

A compact group of Hooded Mergansers floated along with a larger Common Merganser male (pink-red bill) in the back.

In their own tight little group, Common Goldeneye are easily spotted by their bright white chest and sides and dark heads.

In their own tight little group, Common Goldeneye are easily spotted by their bright white chest and sides and dark heads.

But as I walked along the shoreline (getting very chilled in the icy breeze), I spied a couple of ducks swimming away from me, and was sure that I had spotted another species I hadn’t previously seen on the lake.

I thought this was a Redhead Duck -- the coloration of the head, eyes, and back were just right.

I thought this was a Redhead Duck — the coloration of the head, eyes, and back seemed right.  But when I got home and checked the bird guide, it turned out to be a female Common Goldeneye.  See that white wing patch?  Redheads don’t have it.

Compare with this photo taken by another birder of a real Redhead Duck.

Mike Dec's photo from the Minnesota Birding Facebook page, 11-25-13

Mike Dec’s photo from the Minnesota Birding Facebook page, 11-25-13.  

A few other bird enthusiasts have reported (eBird checklist) the numbers of each species they have seen on this lake in the past couple of days. One person estimated he saw:  20 Canada Geese, 16 Trumpeter Swans, 300 Mallards, 15 Canvasback, 600 Ring-necked Ducks, 60 Common Goldeneye, 70 Hooded Mergansers, among 20 other species seen in just 1.5 hours.   Yes, it did seem like there were 1000+ birds on the lake.

With the lakes icing up now, this is probably the last wave of migrants we’ll see until spring…  sigh.

3 thoughts on “another duck bonanza

  1. Your post is a good reminder of how difficult bird identification is for most of us–your redheaded duck sure looked like a Redhead Duck to me. The ponds at my local marsh have a coating of ice on them now too, but, unlike in Minnesota, our ice is not likely to last.

Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s