February 27th, 2019: Too cold for birding…?
Never! But, well, in hindsight…yes it was. I was off to pick up my partner at the Minneapolis airport, but had a little time before she arrived. I really like the Minnesota Valley NWR Bass Ponds, especially in the fall because of tons of waterfowl on the water. But this week, it was so cold, even the ponds with relatively quickly moving (and warm) outflow were nearly frozen.
There were two gently steaming ponds loaded with waterfowl, so I made trudged through the nearly two-foot-deep snow, walking straight into a biting windchill of about -25ºF (it was safely below zero without the gusts) and thinking about how much warmer this was than the past few days. All this while talking to myself to distract myself from the pain of the cold on my face…everyone does that right?
I got about half way around the ponds so the lowering sun was finally not directly into my eyes and got my bins on the waterfowl, hoping for a good variety. Mallards. 420 Mallards… And a pair of Canada Geese. Fortunately, in an even smaller pond I found 4 Common Merganser. I’m afraid I occasionally struggle to find Mallards exciting (especially in this weather), but I do love Common Merganser. They always manage to look so regal as they glide across the water.
Not exactly a riveting birding outing–with only 7 species observed–but it was good to find something beyond the usual winter passerines and woodpeckers during this very cold week. Looking forward to checking out the Bass Ponds again in the spring!