Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lake walk

I started today by walking directly to Lake Michigan, near where Lawrence Avenue meets the northern extremity of Montrose Beach. I think it’s safe to say the weather was raw—cold and damp with some fog. The shoreline in this area is a concrete revetment with an iron breakwall. It’s nondescript but offers a sort of emptiness that’s pleasing on a winter day. There were big ice formations along the beach but the water was mostly ice-free. There were actually a fair number of people around—walking their dogs, jogging and biking.

I saw a handful of female common goldeneyes along the breakwall. A group of about a dozen flew over from the west and then north and out of sight. There’s a point where the shoreline bends west, on the latitude of Foster Avenue. There’s a small concrete pier there with a light tower. There I found more common goldeneyes—male and female—and a few lesser scaup. At least I think they were lesser scaup, but it’s always hard to identify them from greater scaup. There were at least two mature males, immature two males and two females. They were plunging under the water and surfacing with morsels of something (mollusks?).

I’ve seen goldeneyes do a few display maneuvers this winter, and indeed one male was doing something like a torpedo race along the surface of the water. It would stick its neck out, chin to the water, and paddle forward before plunging. Usually I see them throw their heads back, bill pointed to the sky. I continued the walk west and circled back south along Marine Drive.

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