Mystic Lake Redheads

Preening and posing

The winter of 2005-2006 has been extraordinary for Redheads in the Boston suburban north area. In late fall they popped up in numerous places, but eventually settled in at Fresh Pond in Cambridge, an even dozen of them, always in a tight pack. In mid-January, they disappeared from Fresh Pond but occasionally showed up on Lower Mystic Lake, again in a tight group, and very close to shore.

On January 24 I found them just off a neighbor's beach and, with permission from the neighbor, walked down to watch.

I was concerned that my proximity might drive them away from shore, but although they picked up activity, it was to start actively preening and fishing.

The activity got frenetic as they dove and swam in the tight group.

After about five minutes, their activity settled down, as one swam off to the right with a minnow in its bill (and another drake eyeing it hopefully) while another preened. Suddenly, they took off as a flock and settled down again at a distance.