Thursday, March 17, 2011

Diving Ducks and more

Lars reports - Spring is here in 3 days. The ice is just beginning to open, and here come the visitors. Beginning earlier this week, I began seeing lots of migratory, Arctic and local ducks on the northern section of Delaney Complex (Harvard/Stow/Bolton). Over the last few days, I have seen perhaps thirty hooded mergansers, a few Common Goldeneyes, some Buffleheads, 5 - 10 pairs of Wood Ducks, and a mating pair of Mute Swans. That doesn't even include all the mallards and Canada Geese.

This is the best spot that I know of where one can predictably see so many things in such a small area. It is shown in the map above. I think that the reason is that the current turns a sharp corner at that spot. Therefore, it is the first place for the ice to open. And so they come, looking for a meal. Last year at this time I also saw a loon on two occasions. This morning, I was almost run over by an inattentive muskrat while watching the ducks.

One trail head begins on Finn Rd just west of the Stow/Harvard line and a line of 4-5 houses. The other, shorter trail begins off of Taylor Rd Stow, at a parking lot near some newly built houses. If you take the short path, take rubber boots (partly flooded as of yest PM). If you take the long way (prettier, dry), take a right at the only fork there is. It will take you out onto the top of the short esker which leads out onto the point and the loop trail. The open water between those two trails (at the star) is where you'll see all the action.

So, it's a guarantee that if you go in the next week or so (before the ice opens too much), you'll see this great concentration of ducks. Bring binoculars, leave the dog at home, and approach slowly or the Canada Geese will scream at you.

The photo is from "Birds of America," Doubleday, published 1917, and the authors describe the hooded merganser as having "an unpalatable fishy flavor." The map is from Google Maps.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

RIP Eastern Cougar

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has officially declared the eastern
cougar to be extinct in US and Canada. Strangely, the Canadians
recently came to the opposite conclusion!