Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fall migration at the fish hatchery

The fish at Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery don't migrate, but the fish-rearing ponds do attract a variety of migrating waterfowl.  A Kalamazoo Gazette story on a bird-watching event at the hatchery sounded interesting and while I couldn't attend that event, I did visit the next weekend.

Canada Geese and Mallard Ducks live in Kalamazoo year round but many other species are only here during migration.  Buffleheads, a small diving duck with white sides and a large white headpatch, may be my favorite.  I also saw Ring-necked Ducks (although I never see the ring on their neck, but the white ring on their bill is much more visible), Northern Shovelers with their over-sized beaks, and small black Coots.  There were also a fair number of a duck I didn't recognize, with understated, almost elegant, grey plumage; these turned out to be Gadwalls.

While the trails at Wolf Lake are close to the ponds, the ponds themselves are big enough that you really need binoculars to appreciate the birds.  There is an observation deck at the largest pond, with a bench and illustrations of some of the common visitors.

Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery
34270 County Road 652
Mattawan, MI
(at the intersection of M-43 and Fish Hatchery Road)

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