Witt’s End

It's Not About Stories People Tell, It's About …

Winter along Lake Erie is always interesting and a fun time for birders. The hard-core types are out there in sub-zero temperatures trying to identify various species of gulls, or, earnestly searching for Snowy Owls. This winter, however, has been victim to climate change. It’s mid-February and we have less than four percent of the lake in ice. We should have about half the lake covered. Consequently, gulls which normally flock to the south coast of the lake are somewhere else.

All is not lost, however. For the past couple months we’ve been able to enjoy the actions of four Harlequin Ducks. These birds come here, thinking it’s like the Florida Keys. Their presence borders on rare for this area, certainly, uncommon. This quartet has been near Rocky River Park where, apparently, the eats are good. While Susan and I watched, they seemed to be feeding on Zebra Muscles. Occasionally a duck would spit out a snail and the opportunistic gulls would be after it like a chicken on a June bug—so to speak. This group is in winter, or non-breading, plumage, a spectacular mix of white spots, along with shades of brown and black.

Harlequin Ducks on Lake Erie

Diving for Zebra Muscles

An opportunistic Ring-billed Gull, waits

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