Arriving at the refuge, I discovered that the overnight temperatures had been too effective and the impoundments had totally iced over. The ducks had departed to the river, leaving the impoundments to the Canada Geese and the American Coots.
While geese were content to sit upon the ice, until their scheduled departure time; the coots were much more interesting. There were several large groups and a steady stream of coots walking between the groups headed from the far end of the upper impoundment towards the lower impoundment.
Like a person in street shoes trying to cross a hockey rink; walking on ice is a task that coots are singularly ill suited to accomplish. Either they would have difficulties getting going, or once going they could hardly stop. Enjoy this brief video of them in action.
If you don't like coots, you can stop now. However, since today was so different. I tried to enjoy capturing them as they dealt with the icy conditions.
Notice the ice crystals on some of their backs. Is this frozen from some of their last dives?
After a while the purpose of their walking became obvious. They were in search of open water and food. The migration continued to the edge of the Cross Dike Trail. Unfortunately, the passing joggers scared them back into the upper impoundment. Finally they prevailed.
As Will pointed out the Coots are more like Rails than Ducks because they preferred to walk rather than fly. Late in the morning the wind started to pick up and they were forced to fly more. This provided some rare photos of them in flight.
Maintaining their footing was especially challenging between the slippery ice and the forceful gusty winds.
The temperature warmed ever so slightly opening some water in the lower impoundment. A group of coots discovered that the water was still flowing under the Cross Dike Trail bridge. I almost didn't want to bother them, but after getting some close up photos, I had to pass over the bridge on last time to head home.