Thursday, March 06, 2014

Happy Duck Dance!

Long-tailed Duck
Are there birders out there who go it absolutely alone? If so, they must be very, very good, or very, very frustrated. If it weren't for my birder friends, and their postings of bird findings on the BirdKY email list, I would have a hard time finding many cool birds. Yesterday, one of them posted about birds at a location I've not been to before, which ends up being about an hour up the Ohio River from Louisville. So this morning, I stopped for coffee, and headed upstream.
Bald Eagle Nest
I ran into him when I arrived, and he was amazed. "Where did all the gulls go?" We did find the Red-necked Grebes, but did not get a good picture of the female which was the only close bird. I stopped at the restaurant to use the Ladies' Room, still wearing my binoculars. A man at the bar asked if I'd seen the Bald Eagle that sometimes perches in a sycamore tree by the marina across the road. I thought that would be a good place for one too, but no, he hadn't shown up today. It's always interesting that binoculars or a spotting scope can prompt complete strangers to start conversations about birds. Even though they usually are not birders themselves, their interactions with birds seem to be important to them. However, as I started back towards Louisville, taking a scenic road along the river west of Carollton, KY, I did see a large blob of sticks in a bare tree. Fortunately, there was no traffic as I slowed to a crawl. OMG! There's a white blob in the dark blob! It's an Eagle nest, and she's sitting on it!  I parked in the middle of the next small road, and carefully ran across to take some photos of her. A quick email to Kentucky's avian biologist in Frankfort confirmed that they know about this nest. It would have been cool though, to find a new one.
Common Merganser
After winding along more rural roads, I finally arrived at Reformatory Lake. The last time I went there, everything was frozen and covered with snow. Hundreds of geese stood on the ice, or swam in the small open pools. Today, very little snow is left, and the geese honked constantly as they grazed in fields on the other side. The Common Mergansers still swam around though. I have seen all three mergansers this winter - Hooded, Red-breasted, and Common. A hat-trick for me!
Common Goldeneye
Back at the Ohio River, and apprehensively watching the traffic standing in line to cross the bridge on I-65, I found my friend, Eddie the Birder. He counted 16-18 Long-tail Ducks waay out in the middle of the river, and again, I shook my head, unable to confidently identify them. This Common Golden-eye was no problem though. Have you noticed how most of the winter ducks, etc., are combinations of black, white and gray?
Eddie advised me to go upstream a bit to the Big Four Bridge. This bridge carried trains for many years, and has recently been converted to a pedestrian bridge, with great success to my surprise. Anyway, Eddie said he's seen some of these much sought after ducks close to the Indiana shore, just under the bridge. OK, I'll give it a try.
Indeed, how could anyone be a birder without the help of other birders? At last, with the help of my friends, I dance the Happy Duck Dance, and publish my photos of this rare (around here anyway) duck. When I got home, an email was waiting from another friend to go see the Woodcocks' mating display. Thank goodness it's tomorrow evening!

1 comment:

Jim said...

I mostly go it alone finding birds. However another or many sets of eyes you can't beat. Getting to share rare sightings or events adds to the fun. Those difficult to get near birds become special. They often bring surprise finds along the way. I have enjoyed following your quest to success to view the longtails. A job of joy well done.