March 4, 2014

Waterfowl trapped by ice

Waterfowl trapped by ice (click to see the larger version)

I went over to Montrose this morning, March 4, to see what was around. There were a couple very small areas of open water along the shore, one at the harbor mouth and the other near the tower at the bend of the point. Both areas had birds, mainly White-winged Scoters, Greater Scaup, Redheads, Common Goldeneye, and Red-breasted Mergansers. The open area near the tower was all of about 10 feet in diameter and crammed with birds. The situation looked desperate and reminded me of when whales get trapped in small areas of open water surrounded by ice in the Arctic. Lake Michigan was frozen from horizon to horizon, though there was a decent sized lead just east of the fishing pier. I couldn’t figure out why the ducks that seemed to be trapped didn’t just get up and fly a few hundred yards to the larger area of open water. Maybe they were afraid of losing their places or leaving the safety of what little open water they thought existed. When I was walking back from the fishing pier I did see a group of scoters flying from the small area of open water near the tower to the lead, so some of them figured it out. I also saw several dead ducks on the ice which I guess shouldn’t be surprising considering the conditions.