I think (I hope) spring might actually be on its way. I've heard titmice and cardinals beginning to test out their spring songs on recent sunny (but still below-freezing) days, and the weather report is predicting near-50-degree temperatures next week. (So exciting!)
But this post is not about spring's much anticipated arrival. Oh no. This post is about one of the most severe things I've seen during the past two severely cold months.
Last Monday (February 23), I stopped briefly at Miller Road Park in Avon Lake to see Lake Erie, which was at this point basically a never-ending landscape of ice and snow:
Lake Erie always astonishes me whenever I see it, but this is something else.
Actually, almost all of the lake that I could see was frozen. A power plant next to the park pumps warm water into the lake, which keeps this small section of the lake from freezing over. And that's the other reason I stopped at this spot, because without other open water in the area, this place was absolutely packed with thousands of ducks:
I mean, I still can't really fathom this. I did a conservative count from the pictures I took, and I came up with an estimated 1,000 Red-breasted Mergansers and 3,000 Common Mergansers, which were the most numerous birds there. What?? The highest number of Common Mergansers I'd seen in one place before this was somewhere around 30, and I thought that was a lot. Most of the birds in the above picture are Common Mergansers. Here's another view of that massive group:
I mean, what is this? That's way too many Common Mergansers, mostly tuxedo-ed males:
These birds made quite a sight in flight as well:
The other side of the open water was also packed with ducks, and about 100 Great Black-backed Gulls (again, another bird I've only seen in small numbers before) lined the edge of the ice:
Dense groups of Red-breasted Mergansers looked a bit like big fuzzy caterpillars with all those wild hairdoes:
Sleek Common Mergansers and frizzy Red-breasted Mergansers, with Great Black-backed Gulls looking on:
Other birds were less numerous, but still very cool to see. About 100 Canada Geese congregated in one corner of the pool:
Groups of Redheads and Canvasbacks (the brighter white birds with funny sloping beaks) looked stunning in the setting sun:
And several male Common Goldeneyes were looking extra fancy with their stark black and white costumes and white face patches:
I think the huge numbers of Common Mergansers were my favorite part of the scene, though. When else am I going to get to see a parade of these gorgeous birds?
My fingers were numb after about 10 minutes of standing in this awesome place. I wish I could have stayed longer, but yeah, it was really cold. I feel like I've now seen how extreme winter in northern Ohio can be, and it was incredible and intense. And now it's time for spring.