29 Nov 2022
By Tim Hauserman
Out for a stroll along Tahoe City’s lakeshore on a fine November morning I made my way over to the once mighty Truckee River. Since Tahoe is now below the natural rim I stepped over the Truckee without getting my feet wet. Then I headed south in front of Tavern Shores on the wide expanse of beach that a few months ago I was kayaking over. As I was pondering the constantly changing level of Tahoe’s shoreline I heard a series of raucous splashes just off shore.
It was a half dozen male merganser ducks moving swiftly just under the surface of the water about 50 feet off shore. They were frantically flapping and moving so fast it was hard to tell whether they were flying or swimming, perhaps a little of both. It was impressive. Then the fastest of the bunch pulled up short, flashed his beak out of the water which contained a fish that he was trying to get down his gullet.
For the next minute or so, he was standing up, flapping his wings and making all sorts of muscular contortions in the an effort to get that fish down. Once he seemed satisfied that it was down in his belly for good, he sat placidly atop the water, while his cohorts were swimming along the shoreline towards Tahoe Tavern.
Over the next five minutes I watched the unsuccessful hunters anxiously and frequently looking under the water hoping for another school of small fish to come meandering by, while the successful duck was moving pretty slowly, following his cohorts, but getting further behind. He looked like humans recovering from too much turkey over Thanksgiving: hoping to find a couch to collapse onto and attempt to digest his bounty. You think you feel stuffed, how would you like to put all that food in your belly without chewing it first?
Duck fishing was a nice display of nature in process, and another reminder that it’s always a good idea to get out and take a stroll along Tahoe City’s lakefront walkway. It’s one of my favorite walks, and always has something to surprise you. I’ve seen bald eagles, coyotes and bears along the lake, and even without the wildlife, the view of the lake is always inspiring. .