The mail is always surprising. Recently, I receivednice photos of red-breasted mergansers in the waters betweenâ¯Hadley Point and Lamoine. These mergansers lookas if they were having a ‘bad hair day’ with their fluffy feathers blown askew by the wind. They are very handsome diving ducks – not to be missed.The females seen were greyish with a crested rufous–colored head.They also have a large square white patch on the wings, but it is the windblown reddishcrest that you would notice first on this duck.
If the males are nearby, they are quite different in color, for the male has a black head glossed with green and it isconspicuously crested. The male also has a wide white collar and a red bill. They are very nice ducks to seeon the salt water at this time of year.You might want to consider going over to Hadley Point or to Lamoine Beach or any other beach areas to look for them. Watching shorebirdsor ducksfrom your car can be very rewardingat any time of year. Take a winter picnic with you!A great many red-breastedmergansers are readily seen in this areafrom September through April.
Fifty years ago, this duck was one to look for only in the salt water, but in recent years it has been possible to find it on local ponds.The common merganserisfrequently found nesting on local ponds such as Jordan Pond and Bubble Pond.
A lone snow goose has been a bird of interest for locals in Southwest Harbor for several years now. Its mate was killed on the highwaynear the MansetCorner, but it has stayed and survived several Maine winters.This particular snowgooseis a plucky bird and seems to associate with local mallards in Southwest Harbor as well as with the Canada geese in Somesville.All last summer it hung out with some puddle ducks in Lamoine. I even got a phone callone day from a friend in Florida, whose daughter lives in Lamoine, telling me he thought I’d like to know. The gooseis now back in Southwest Harbor.At one time, it was helped out by a human friendduring the harsh winters, but this good Samaritanhas passed away, so the bird is on its own.
The snow goose is an Arctic bird. Its Latin name, hyperborean, means “frombeyond the north wind.” Its normal breeding place is the more northern part of the Arctic Archipelago of northern Canada and Greenland. Southwest Harbor is a long way from home.
When I looked up snow geese and read about them, I found that they are dimorphic, which means they can come in differentcolors.Some of them are white, as the bird in Southwest Harbor is, and sometimes they are darkblue. Their normal life span is about five years so ‘our’ goose is getting old.
In January, the ice fishing begins. Salmon, trout and pickerel become sought after treasures brought up through the ice.It is a cold sport, but it is irresistible for a large number ofpeople on MDI!Beneath the ice, the salmon, troutand pickerel are moving and fishermenwatch their tip-ups signaling that they have caught something.
Eagles will sometimes circle in the air overhead watching this sport or will sit in a tree nearby waiting for a chance to grab some bait or freshly caught fish.Such close encounters with eagles are pretty special.A fisherman’s feet may be wet andhis whole body may be cold, but the hardy souls who enjoy this sport go out again and again trying to capture an elusive fish.
The salmon the fishermen are after is the landlocked salmon, an important game fish. These salmon hatch in fresh water, usually in streams, and many spendsome time there, but they eventually move down to the sea where they live and grow for several years, depending on the species.They will return to their home streams tospend the autumn. If the salmon (Salmo salar) is a landlocked onecaught in Long Pond, Echo Lake and Eagle Lake, it is generally smaller, and if it is a stocked fish, a lower fin is missing. These fish are usually 10-20 inches long and weigh from 2 to maybe even 3 pounds.
When you are out and about now, look at everything large and small and let me know what you are seeing. There have been many snowy owl reports these days and many evening grosbeaks are coming to feeders.