A cold snap at the end of 2014 left many of the ponds and lakes at Ridgefield frozen over, but this group of American coots was helping keep a section of South Quigley Lake open with their constant movement as they dove under water in search of plants to eat. There’s a culvert near here that runs under the road and keeps water flowing between the north and south lakes, so the water here tends to stay open longer than the other parts of the lake.
The handful of splashes in the picture are from coots diving under the water, in the splash on the far right one of the coot’s legs is visible sticking up above the water. There’s also a pair of American wigeon on the far right, they frequently will try and take some of the plants that a coot brings to the surface, but on this morning they seemed content to just hang out with the coots and enjoy the safety in numbers as well as the open water. The sun was just starting to rise on this New Year’s morning, there’s a hill above the refuge that blocks the sun right at sunrise but it was just starting to crest the hill and illuminate the trees at the far side of the lake.