From Birding

Lifebirds #28 and #29 – On Gervais Ponds


Species  Great Egret / Ardea alba
Where Gervais Mill Ponds
When April 2004
Who Joann
Number 28

 
The Great Egret and the Canada Goose were the first birds at the Gervais Mill Ponds of Little Canada that Joann and I checked off in our copy of Birds of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Since this time, we’ve developed a special relationship with the ponds (see our website FOGCAP.org), and as I write this in 2010, I’ve identified 104 species at the ponds.

Great EgretThough we walk our dog Katie at the ponds almost daily, and have done so since we moved to our house in 2002, it wasn’t until May of 2006 that we bothered to bring binoculars with us on these walks and to make any sort of effort at all to find birds there. What a revelation it was when we did.

Binoculars aren’t needed to see the large, graceful Great Egret. We see them fishing the ponds every year. We see fishermen working the ponds all the time, too. I’ve seen lots of casts, but I don’t recall ever seeing a fisherman in the act of pulling a fish out of the water. Egrets, on the other hand, never seem to come up empty when they strike.

This photo shows an egret fishing at the ponds.

Species  Canada Goose / Branta canadensis
Where Gervais Mill Ponds
When April 2004
Who Joann
Number 29

 
Canada Goose pair with youngThere are never an abundance of Canada Geese at the ponds. The natural habitat of tall native grasses and reeds that ring the ponds is not what they prefer. Canada Geese love mowed lawns that slope gently toward water. This is why our parks and golf courses are fairly littered with the birds, while in a more natural setting such as Gervais Mill Park overpopulation is not a problem. We see a nesting pair or two at the ponds every year, but that’s it. Most often, a single pair will nest on the small (30-foot diameter) island on the largest pond. The pair in this photo nested on the island and raised their small brood on the ponds in the park. We watched these individuals over the course of the summer of 2007.

The female (we think) has a broken arrow sticking out of her back (it’s visible in the picture). It didn’t seem to bother her as far as we could tell. I can only hope it bothers the conscience of the idiot who shot her.

See lifebird index.