Hooded Merganzers – New Winter Arrivals


One of my favorite winter water birds is the Hooded Merganzer (Lophodytes cucullatus).  Thanksgiving Day morning, while Ann was cooking our holiday meal, I decided to stay out of her way, and out of the house.  First I went to San Angelo State Park, the first time I had been there in a couple of months.  More on that a little later.  After I left the park, I decided to go by a small lake a few blocks from our house.  I don’t know if it has an official name, but because it is near Sunset Mall on Sunset Drive, I will call it Sunset Lake.

It is a regular place where a lot of waterbirds hang out.  I stopped at a favorite viewing spot on Huntington Street and walked down to the shore.  There more than  a hundred Hooded Merganzers, Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, and I think I saw some Lesser Scaups.  I was walking and traveling light, so I had my Canon 7D and a Canon 100-400mm zoom lens.  Perfect for the situation.  From my position, though, all of the birds were back-lighted in the morning sun.  But I had to live with it as, because of the residental homes, this is probably the only place that I could get close to the water.

Hooded Merganzer

female Hooded Merganzer

Hooded Merganzer

female Hooded Merganzer

Now back to the subject of San Angelo State Park.  I was very disappointed in the condition of the bird blind.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, Ann and I took upon us the care, maintenance and feeding the blind for a couple of years.  We retired from the job at the end of June 2011.

When I arrived there Thursday morning, I saw one, and only one Savannah Sparrow, and that was the only bird that I observed.  There obviously hadn’t been feed put out in several days (weeks?).  One feeder was broken.  A window in the blind was broken out.  No water was flowing in to the water basin.  Weeds were tall.  I walked around for about 15 minutes and saw not a sign of any other bird, save for that one and only sparrow.

I don’t know what the problem is.  It seems to me that know one really cares about the birding prospects for the park.  The powers-that-be haven’t  grasped the fact that birding is getting to be a very, very popular past-time in Texas.  Texas is one of the leading states for birding, as it is in the migratory paths of most species.  All of the other state parks, are taking advantage by erecting new blinds for photographers and birders.  Therefore, they are getting a lot more revenue that is sorely needed.

So unless San Angelo State Park wakes up, they are going to lose out on a very good source of income.  In the past I have always bragged about the park, but now I have to say that is not the park that it used to be.

So now I have vented, and I feel good about it.  Now, I’ll probably get letters.  So be it.

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