Thursday, April 21, 2011

Birding Close to Home

Mr. Johnson decided we should take advantage of a bit of nice weather today (between snowy and rainy days) and do a little birding close to home (as gas has now gone up to $3.79 here!) Our first stop was the County 9 wetlands, about a mile east of Rochester. As usual the Giant Canada Geese and Coots dominated this large pond, but we also saw some Northern Shovelers, Ring-Necked Ducks, a Bufflehead (lifer!) pair and one Redhead. No shorebirds were seen, but I did spot a Swamp Sparrow flitting around in the tall grasses close to the observation deck where we were standing. I managed to get a couple photos that were good enough to confirm this little bird's identity.
Not a life bird, but it was still neat to spot this early spring arrival and get some good photos.

After a quick lunch at KFC (have you tried any of their $5 lunches? Delicious!!) We headed a few miles west of Rochester to the Kalmar Reservoir. Most of the waterfowl was at the other end of the reservoir, but fortunately one of Rochester's premier birders, Chris Hockema, was also at the reservoir with his spotting scope and he helped us to locate some waterfowl that we hadn't seen yet this year: Eared Grebe and Ruddy Duck. Like the County 9 wetland, Coots were the dominant bird here.

I was amazed to see that many of these coots were spending quite a bit of time on shore poking around in the grass. Not sure what they were foraging for, but it was interesting to see them walking around on land.

As were were pulling out of the reservoir driveway, I saw these 2 handsome fellows hanging out together at the little waterway next to the road. I never thought of Mallards as particularly large ducks, but this guy just dwarfs the Blue-Winged Teal drake. An odd couple for sure, but they certainly posed nicely for my camera, don't you think?

More rain is in the forecast for tonite, tomorrow and maybe a little bit on Saturday, but Sunday is supposed to be sunny before the next round of rainy weather moves in for next week. Hopefully the weather will straighten out soon and we can get started on our next birdquest -- migrating shorebirds.

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