Lake Minnetonka, from Wayzata west to the Arcola Bridge (four miles), currently holds thousands of waterfowl and more than a dozen Bald Eagles. Most of the waterfowl are Common Mergansers, with a mix Common Goldeneyes and Mallards. I suspect other parts of the lake also have birds.
The view from the Wayzata Depot is a good place to begin (parking!). Scanning from east to west I saw an endless line of mergansers, albeit far from shore. Closer to shore, just east of the restaurant Cov, is a large flock of Common Coots. Gulls also can be seen out on the bay, unidentifiable at that distance, but most likely Ring-bills.
Heading west on County 15 out of Wayzata you come first to Brown’s Bay, then Smith’s Bay. I went no farther. No need to do that. The string of waterfowl continues through both bays. Thousands of birds.
Bald Eagles were seen off the Wayzata shore, and in particular over Brown’s Bay. Tall shoreline trees hold perched eagles. One tree observed from the Wayzata beach Saturday at sundown held 11 eagles with three more in the air overhead. This is an extremely long view, probably half a mile. The birds are on a tiny island seen at the entrance to Wayzata Bay along the west shore.
I visited with a couple who live on a western bay of the lake. They told me that this is the most eagles they have seen in 14 years. I was taking photos of eagles hunting waterfowl when they stopped to tell me about a shoreline tree with six perched eagles. The birds would drift in over the water, a pair sometimes circling together, playing by momentarily locking talons, rolling together. I watched three eagles make passes at the mergansers, gliding low to the water with talons dragging. I didn’t see any kills. I didn’t even see mergansers trying to avoid the hunters. All of the birds acted like it was rehearsal.
Those western bays are perhaps 20 percent frozen. Sunday night more ice will form, and the birds, if they storm does not drive them out, will be concentrated, with luck near shore. The eagles should stay until all open water is gone.
County Road 15 west out of Wayzata is a busy road with narrow shoulders and essentially no place to park a car. Viewing is best done on drive-bys. I was creative and found a couple of places I thought safe to stop. The road is posted “no parking” from end to end.