Sunday, March 27, 2011

Waterfowl Afternoon

It was a beautiful, sunny day here in southeastern Minnesota -- perfect for a drive thru the Whitewater Valley IBA this afternoon in search of migrating waterfowl. Here are some photos of what we found today.......

Greater Scaup
A handsome bird with a pretty light blue bill

Common Merganser, Male

But wait, there's more!
Two more male mergansers were escorting this pretty female down the Whitewater River.
We saw some Hooded Mergansers also, but they were pretty flighty and I wasn't able to get any photos of them.

These gulls blended in well with the ice still remaining on the edge of this pond. (That's a goose nesting box platform in the background and a muskrat lodge in the foreground.)

Here's a Canada Goose with a much smaller partner. Does anyone have a thought on ID of the smaller goose? Looking at my big Sibley guide, I'm wondering whether it might be a Richardson's or Lesser Canada Goose?
A few miles farther down the road, we came to a large pond with lots of waterfowl. Close to the road I got this great shot of a beautiful Canvasback duck. With my binoculars, I could even see his pretty red eye. Even though you can barely see the dark rust color of his head, he has the "unique head shape with long black bill and flat forehead" as described in my big Sibley guide.
At the other side of the pond there were lots of different ducks. We saw more Canvasbacks and also some Ring-Necked Ducks and even a couple of Northern Shovelers.
Go ahead and click on these photos for an enlarged view of all the different ducks here.

And here was a Canada Goose already occupying her next box platform.

Hope you enjoyed our lovely Minnesota spring afternoon!


Ruth said...

I would guess that your smaller goose is a Cackling Goose. People around here get excited if they see one. (It would be a life bird for me) Here is a link to some pictures taken this month by a photographer in our area and there is a shot of a Canada and Cackling Goose together.

another link

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Wow! Cackling Goose! I've been scanning Canada Goose flocks for ages looking for one. Yay Ruthie!

Anonymous said...

You called it right Sissy, when you said you thought it was a cackling goose when you first spotted it! Way to go. Thanks for taking us along on this adventure. It's always a good time with you 2!! And thanks for the fuel and the car wash when we were done driving on those back roads :)

RuthieJ said...

Hi Ruth,
Thanks very much for the links. I didn't know that they had lumped all 4 of the smaller geese into the Cackling Goose. Another life bird checked off my list!

Thanks Lynne. I'm glad the geese were so cooperative to pose for those photos. It's always nice to have another life bird checked off my list too!

Thanks for providing the means of transport Sissy! When I was checking the cackling goose off my list this morning I found out the ring-necked duck and greater scaup were life birds too, so it was a really great afternoon for me! Now if I can only witness one of those swan flyovers you keep getting to see......

Matilda said...

With your interest in wildlife, I was wondering if you have ever visited the North American Bear Center in Ely, MN? I have been a FB fan for a couple years now and have seen 3 cubs born to a wild black bear named Lily. One of her latest cubs, the male, died last week; cause still to be determined. I would love to visit there, but it's a very long drive from NW Ohio. If you are not aware of the Center, you can get information at I love your blog and all the photos.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Matilda. No, I've not visited the North American Bear Center yet. I've visited the International Wolf Center several times, but haven't had the chance to visit Ely since the Bear Center was built. I was sorry to hear about Jason's death also. I hope Lily, Hope and Faith all continue to do well.