I can tell winter’s coming. It’s not the snow. Or the single digit temps at night. It’s the squirrels scrambling for acorns which usually starts in September. The timing and desperation in their gathering usually indicates when winter will start. They were pretty calm and lacked frenzy this year. Then there’s the mice creeping into the house thru the miniscule cracks and holes I missed with the foam spray. LOTS of mice this year and they were bold enough to come upstairs, but that’s another story involving death, destruction and lots of lost sleep. Anyway, the squirrel and mouse activities started late this year. Nowadays, the squirrels are really fat, dare I say obese, and the mice are still coming into the house. Ugh. But the best part of the coming winter is the migratory birds on the lake. Every year at this time large numbers of loons, geese and duck stop for a layover/feeding frenzy on the lake during their migration south.

This year it seems that I may have missed the loons and geese which usually pass through mid November. Then shortly after they leave winter hits hard – the lake freezes and the snow sticks around til April. Or maybe winter’s coming late this year.

Today I was fortunate to see 3 male Hooded Mergansers courting a female. I saw the hooded mergansers last year but couldn’t get a good picture. This year I got some . They hung around fishing and napping right by the dock for a few hours. These pics were taken from the house – they are such skittish birds that I didn’t want to scare them off before getting a couple pics. Then when I went outside to see if I could get closer, they fled, as expected. Now they’re hanging out in front of the Lewis’ camp. Much quieter down there, I’m sure. The pics still aren’t the best, but look at the large version (Click the link that says “click here for larger image”).

They’re such spectacular looking birds in the fall. They don’t look this cool during the summer.