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  • Writer's pictureGregg Severson

Black Duck Run

On Friday, I had some time in the afternoon to get out and go birding. I wanted to try for something uncommon, but I didn't have time or energy to try to get to many of the spots on my radar - I couldn't get over to the Mississippi or to the airport or to St. Paul. I had heard a couple of reports of American Black Duck at Hiawatha Park and Golf Course in Minneapolis, so I headed there. Black Ducks aren't a truly rare bird, but they are uncommon enough that it would be really nice to get this one out of the way earlier.

The reports of the Black Ducks at Hiawatha had said that it was in the "holding pond" with a bunch of Mallards. I didn't know where the holding pond was, so I had to do a bit of wandering to find it. I first check Hiawatha Lake proper, as the inflows and outflows often have a bit of open water. However, there were no ducks on the lake at all. I figured the "holding pond" must have to be over on the golf course somewhere, and getting onto the golf course is often a bit of a headache since it is all fenced off. However, the lake was frozen, so I was able to hop onto the lake for a bit to get around the fence, then commenced looking for a pond with open water. I checked a few ponds that were mostly frozen before I found the one that was open. It had quite a number of Mallards on it, but no American Black Duck.

I didn't have a ton of time left and needed to be getting back towards home. I thought I'd take a route that followed Minnehaha Creek since there are usually stretches of open water that could have a Belted Kingfisher, or the Black Duck could be hiding in with Mallards along the creek. For most of the stretch I biked, the creek was mostly frozen over, and aside from a few robins drinking and bathing, there wasn't a lot going on. However, once I crossed 50th Street, the creek was entirely open between there and and Lake Harriet and there were hundreds of Mallards gathered there.

I walked the whole stretch and checked out every Mallard, and couldn't turn any of them into a Black Duck! I did get a nice surprise when I found a Gadwall sleeping amongst the Mallards! Not a rare bird, but still nice to have at least one new year bird for the day!

sleeping Gadwall on Minnehaha Creek

My last hope was to check the creek between Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet, which often houses hundreds of Mallards as well. However, despite the open water there, there wasn't a single duck!

I was off guiding in Sax-Zim Bog this weekend, but hopefully I can get some good bike birding in next week to tick some more good wintering birds!

Miles Biked on this trip: 14.8

Miles biked year to date: 53.2

Species count: 28

My bike birding eBird profile:

map of bike route for this post

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