Friday, January 31, 2014

Lake Crabtree - Frozen!

I had just come in from sledding when I got the email - a Common Merganser was at Lake Crabtree.  This would be my first in North Carolina, and I really wanted to see it.  I was getting that itch to chase, so I made the drive up there with my mom.  We were surprised to see the surface of the lake almost entirely covered in ice.  I believe this was the first time I have seen a frozen lake in the 18 years I've lived in North Carolina (though I have seen them in NY and Maine...)  It was awesome!

We arrived first on the county park side, and easily found a massive flock of ducks in a small patch of open water in the middle of the lake.  We watched a Coot venture onto the ice, scramble around awkwardly, then run back into the water - a comical diversion from the Common Merganser search.  Unfortunately, the glare from the sun was terrible, so we decided to head over to the Southport side of the lake.

The light on this side was exponentially better, so I was able to easily find the Common Merganser, a female, sitting on the ice in a massive flock of her smaller cousins, Hooded Mergansers.  From this side I also spotted the two White-winged Scoters that had been on the lake for the past week or so, as well as two adult Bald Eagles sitting on the ice.  I was excited to see the Merganser, my 197th Wake County bird!
It's probably one of the worst photos I've put on this blog - but the Common Merg is the big bird in the middle.
Bald Eagles chilling on the ice.

But the highlight for us were two beavers who were breaking up the ice along the shoreline where we were standing.  They would disappear under the water, then a few seconds later, break through the ice in another location, sending a loud shattering sound across the lake.  We could even see the beavers swimming under the ice!  It was pretty freakin' cool, I have to admit.
Beaver-turned-icebreaker at Lake Crabtree

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