Rare sighting at Maple Lake


Local Birder Barney Stone was astonished at his good fortune in spotting a pair of migrating penguins on Wednesday.  “I was driving by the public access and noticed two odd birds sitting at the edge of the ice near shore,” said Stone.  At first he thought they might be uncommon loons, which are rare enough and exciting to see.  “The black and white color was right, but the size and shape were wrong,”  he added. Luckily, he had his spotting scope with him and was able to get a closer view and record what he saw.  “Oh my gosh, they are in the wrong hemisphere,” was the first thing that crossed his mind when he realized he was really looking at penguins. 
A call to the U of M Extension Service shed some light on the “pretty darn weird” occurrence.  Stone was told the only time it is possible to see penguins in Minnesota is during “ice out” conditions when there is open water between the shore and ice shelf.  This is such a variable event it is very difficult for the penguins to determine when to migrate.  Maple Lake is pretty far west of their usual migration path as they often stop at Lake Superior on their way to Hudson Bay.  The “U” staff speculated this pair may have gotten caught up in some recent windy days and were blown a bit off course. Stone, like most Birders, keeps a life list of all of his sightings.  “Seeing these magnificent creatures for the first time is a real treat and by far the best entry in my journal,” said Stone.  “I can only hope that the fact it happened on April Fool’s Day does not reduce my credibility.”
Happy April Fools’ Day from the Maple Lake Messenger staff.
Courtesy of Bob Zimmerman