Surf Scoter

I haven’t written for… almost a year.

It’s understandable. I graduated, got a new job, moved twice. You get the picture.

I’ve also just not known what to write about, silly as it sounds. I still get outside, but you can only write so much about local hiking spots. What to write about then? My best area of focus is animal sightings, in particular the birds. They have always been special to me. The more novel the bird, the more I feel inclined to write about it. Which brings me to yesterday.

I invited my boyfriend, Blaise, out birding with me. He suggested I go on eBird and see if anything unusual had been spotted recently. We looked and there were a few days’ worth of sightings of a single Surf Scoter out on Lake Kegonsa. We decided to check it out.

It took us about 20 minutes to drive down past McFarland, not counting a trip to the credit union. It wasn’t too cold for December down by the lake, but it will still a little windy. We parked near where the Yahara River enters the lake, not the best view point. Immediately after walking a short ways to a spot on there shore where almost all the circular lake was visible, I spotted a lone duck in the distance. Could that be it? It was a little dot of a bird, the overall shape blurred against the gray water. I set down my scope, took a peek, and instantly identified it. It was indeed the Surf Scoter.

She had a large, dark body with a heavy bill. Directly behind the bill was whitish spot, almost like a soft-edged crescent. Behind her eye was another light spot, a vertically-compressed circle. There was no white wing patch like there would be in a White-winged Scoter. My first Surf Scoter!

Grainy docushot ensued.

This was also life bird number 350 for me, a nice beautiful number. In addition, the Surf Scoter may have hooked Blaise on birds. I swear he spent more time at the scope than I did. Eventually, we decided to each take one last look and pack up. Our fingers and noses were getting a bit cold. We got some takeout Jamaican food and celebrated a fun day of birding eating it in the comfort of a nice, warm apartment.

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