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Along the Lakeshore: April 24

Deer, duck nesting habits, trip to Rochester

On Saturday, the last batch of snow in the ditch on the west side of Route 41A, just north of the Loveless farm driveway, melted and vanished. Over the years, this is one of the last places to have snow in the spring. It is a very good measure of the kind winter we have had.

The deer herd (eight to 16 strong) has been active, feeding on the grass holdovers in the Loveless pasture. They have been rubbing on the young maple trees that line the driveway to the house on the north side of Fire Lane 17. Special plastic protectors were put on these trees in the fall of 2010. A few were rubbed off last spring and the rest came off this spring. They are a spiral of fairly heavy plastic which is wound onto the tree, so a casual rub will not remove them. They have to be rubbed in the same direction several times to unwind them. Isn’t nature just wonderful?

I thought the ducks had all gone north or wherever, but the mallard pair was sleeping on the small dock when I got up at 6:30 this morning to let Mr. Lemon out for his first call. Then lo and behold there were three pairs of buffleheads bopping around and six pairs of mergansers diving and circling.

The buffleheads were very active, chasing and splashing each other. Males chased females and the hens mixed it up with the boys. They sort of created a circle about 25 feet around with waves and a bit of foam. This is probably some part of their breeding season playtime, but according to my Ducks Unlimited source they nest later in the north, usually in trees in undisturbed forests.

The mergansers on the other hand, nest and produce large clutches of duckies right in the neighborhood. Several years ago one hen was tending a group of 18 wee duckies. This group was reduced to eight by October, but they all probably wintered over and were among those seen growing up to do their thing.

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