"...observed a Barrow's Goldeneye in the Muskegon Channel...2:45pm..."
Wish granted. That came over the listserv Sunday afternoon from Michael Boston, and he had pics too. Good enough for me. Sarah and I bundled up and headed out the next morning. Muskegon is typically a great birding spot in the winter. The breakwall at Pere Marquette Park offers good views of loons, grebes, all the scoters, other diving ducks, and often a Purple Sandpiper or three. On lucky days a few Long-tailed Ducks might be in the sheltered harbor offering close views from the breakwall.
|Greater Scaup are a winter staple of Lake Michigan (photo by Sarah Adams)|
But this winter, that entire area is ice for miles out into Lake Michigan. There is very little open water at any of the of harbors on the lake's east shore, so I was surprised to see a picture of a Barrow's Goldeneye along with some Long-tailed Ducks and a scoter or two. Since the Barrow's would be a lifer for both of us, so off we went, looking forward to seeing our first-of-year Long-taileds even if we missed the goldeneye.
|Female Long-tailed Duck (photo by Sarah Adams)|
|The most important Common Goldeneyes have Long-tailed Ducks as wingmen (photo by Sarah Adams)|
That was the only open water for miles around, so no one was going anywhere. It was also full of fish and, to the delight of the scoters, zebra mussels. Watching the scoters crunching down on a cluster of mussels with their intimidating bills was incredible.
|White-winged Scoters (and Long-tailed Duck) (photo by Sarah Adams)|
It was also incredible (and I mean that in a bad way this time) trying to spot a Barrow's Goldeneye among the assembled horde of Common Goldeneyes. Some other birds joined us and we all eventually got on the Barrow's, though when he dove and resurfaced in a random floatilla of commons, it took a long time to get back on him again. It was a birding version of that old game whack-a-mole trying to anticipate where he was going to reappear.
|Sasquatch! But this isn't is a guy in a bigfoot suit, it's really a Barrow's Goldenye...just far away in horrible light.|
|Long-tailed Duck (photo by Sarah Adams)|
|Red-breasted Merganser (photo by Sarah Adams)|
|Red-breasted Merganser female (photo by Sarah Adams)|
|This is not a typical sight 10 yards from shore.|
|Long-tailed Duck - an exquisite beast from any angle (photo by Sarah Adams)|
|Phone-scoped King Eider ...yes, we went back to get it!|
|This White-winged Scoter laughed at us. (Photo by Sarah Adams)|
|Red-throated Loon was a bonus when we returned for the eider.|
For more Muskegon and Valentine's Day fun, check out my blog post from a couple years ago.
You may notice most of these photos are from my wife who is a better birder, better photographer, and MUCH better looking than I am. Check out her Flickr page.