Mergansers At Wood Lake

I love this time of year. Loons are migrating north and this is one of the few times you can find them on the lakes near our apartment. This was my Friday morning loon.

I had a spare hour this morning and headed over to Wood Lake Nature Center. Now that the ice is finally coming out of some of the Twin Cities lakes, people are reporting waterfowl all over. When I arrived at Wood Lake, I was surprised to see a tree sparrow still hanging around. How soon will we see chipping sparrows in their place?

When I got down to the lake, I noticed some waterfowl dotting the surface. Across from me, a coot started splashing around. It poked its bill a couple of times in the water and then took off. I wondered if a large fish was going after its feet...

I was surprised to see a pied-billed grebe pop up where the coot had been. Not long after I took this photo it gave its territory call. Perhaps the grebe plans to use this as its nesting territory and feels that no coots should be allowed.

There was a robin lurking in the reeds--check out that beakful of nesting material!

I continued to scan the lake and found this pair of hooded mergansers. They drifted over to the other side where there is another dock. I wondered if I could get over there to get a closer look. They can be kind of cagey, but the male would be interested in the female and maybe wouldn't notice me.

I walked over to the dock and moved slowly, using the reeds to hide my body. They noticed my movement, but didn't seem too alarmed.
Every time they dove under water for fish, I would take a step closer and try to anticipate where they would pop up and have my scope and camera ready.

This seemed to work well. When the birds would come up with a fish, they were so interested in trying to swallow it, they didn't care if I came right out in the open.

Some mallards came out towards the mergansers. The males were chasing a hen, oblivious to the smaller ducks around them. It's weird seeing the mergansers head on.

Eventually, the female swam over to a log and began to preen. The male soon followed and did a little display of raising his crest. And either because I'm incredibly tired or have been sipping too much scotch, I leave you with an anthropomorphic cartoon of hooded mergansers: