by Chip Darmstadt
Our snowless landscape and warm weather have been an inevitable topic of conversation lately. Ponds and other water bodies are still ice-free. A recent ramble around Berlin Pond yielded eight different species of waterfowl, including a very rare Ross’s Goose. This diminutive arctic species closely resembles the much more common Snow Goose. Aside from its smaller size, it sports a stubbier bill and lacks the so-called “grinning patch” of its larger relative.
Canada Goose flocks flying overhead, dozens of mallards feeding with tails in the air, Hooded and Common Mergansers diving for fish. These and other aquatic species will take advantage of the mild conditions until the ice and snow settle in for the winter. Even then waterfowl can still be found mid-winter provided there are patches of open water and food to be found.
Chip Darmstadt is the executive director of North Branch Nature Center.