Tuesday, October 02, 2007
I'm Just Ducky!
Twice a week I do community work and have the opportunity to stop at noon for a bit of birding. The swamp I have described several times is only a few minutes from a nursing home I visit, and is the place I have been stopping most frequently. On a local birding forum, a member posted pictures of female Pintail Ducks seen last week at this location. (Here is his album of bird pictures from this area) There are so many ducks in this swamp, that I tend to ignore them, looking for more unusual birds. Today I found another access to the edge of the swamp. There were a couple of signs posted near the neighbourhood mail boxes warning about fines levied for disturbing the birds.
I went to the end of the path and saw the usual Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Canada Geese and Mallards. The Mallards have changed dramatically in the past two weeks. All summer I wondered where the males were. They had lost their mating plumage and looked like the females. The males are once again resplendent in colour and the ducks are pairing off. I could not identify any Pintails.
I wondered if I saw a Black Duck. The duck on the right was much darker, had a different bill and the violet stripe on the wing had no white or black border. Mallards can be very confusing.
This pair looked different, but I now think they are juveniles. The yellow-billed male is developing a dark green head.
Amongst all the bright green heads, I saw something different.
Wood Ducks! At least twenty of them!
I have never seen this bird and it was on my wish list for the year. Unlike some people, who have them land in trees in their backyards (Lynne !), they are not seen commonly here. My husband says he has never seen one in all his years of fishing. I never would have seen them without my binoculars as they were in the middle of the swamp. My camera is not adequate for taking pictures at this distance, but this shot was proof of my find.
Ducks can confuse me as much as sparrows do. Plumage changes muddle things even more. I am studying my guide books to learn the subtle differences between some species. There is no longer enough light for evening visits to the swamp. My short noon hour jaunts and weekend visits will have to suffice. I wonder how many other migrating ducks will be visiting this fall?