Friday, December 17, 2010

Joe Neal hunting waterfowl without a gun!

Andrew Scaboo’s posting about male & female sawbills (Common Merganser) at Bob Kidd Lake near Prairie Grove got me out yesterday. He saw them in the open by the dam. The female was hidden in the shoreline lotus. She flushed suddenly, but didn’t fly. She swam, mostly underwater, across the lake and perched and preened behind a bunch of snags, along the far shoreline. Despite watching her for an hour, I never saw him. I had the impression that her left wing was injured, but I couldn’t tell for sure. Other divers: Ring-necked Duck (14), Lesser Scaup (4), Common Goldeneye (1), Ruddy Duck (17). At one point the goldeneye male swam right past our sawbill. Quite a contrast in color, shape, bill function, and life strategy. Also, one juvenile Bald Eagle.

Powerful cold is great for birding here because smaller bodies of water freeze, concentrating birds, so off I went to Lake Sequoyah. It was only half frozen and unfrozen water was waterfowl. There was constant, pleasant yacking by female Mallards, some standing and walking on ice. I got 10 duck species, with the highest numbers of Mallards and Gadwalls (combined, 300+), but I also saw a high number (74) for another sawbill species, immaculate female and male Hooded Mergansers. Also a big surprise: 3 male Wood Ducks, common through the fall, but not after such weather.

The main part of Lake Fayetteville was open. I saw an immaculate Eared Grebe -- black-looking, with white contrasts even on a heavily overcast day, and an amazingly blood red eye.

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