Monday, March 16, 2015

Just A Little Pond II

There were more ducks than I cared to mention in one post, so I decided to divide it up into a couple of posts. You may think seeing something like this is out of your reach, but this pond and others (like Schoolhouse pond in Upper Marlboro near the Administration Building) are accessible to anyone — although a pair of binoculars would serve you well. It is not unlike visiting a zoo — except all the birds can come and go at will.

I wanted to include a photo of the Canvasbacks after they have dived to the bottom of the pond and foraged through the mud. After they stop diving, sometimes the mud dries on their face like a woman having a mud facial! The duck with black is a Ring-neck and the light brownish duck is an American Wigeon.

Among the myriad of puddle ducks, I spotted what is actually a sea duck called a Common Goldeneye. It is on the left in this photo. It was hanging with the Canvasbacks since it also likes to dive. I have seen them occasionally on the Bay, but I think it is more likely you would see them out on the open ocean. You can also see the difference between male and female Canvasback in this photo. Canvasback have a noticeable habit of swimming in a row, one behind the other. Ring-neck have a habit of swimming in a line, one beside another. I'm not sure why that is.

There has been one Tundra Swan has been content to spend it's day tipped up eating submerged vegetation and seemingly unconcerned about finding others of it's kind. Almost anywhere there is a log or rock sticking up out of the water, you can see turtles basking.

There was also one lone Pied-billed Grebe on the pond. They superficially resemble loons and have legs set far back on their body, making diving easier. Pied-bills lose the black circle on their bill in winter, so this one is as much as announcing winter is over. This pond is not administered by the park service or other agency, so trash is a problem. It is unfortunate that so many people are thoughtless about the scourge of trash.

Last of the many varieties of birds on this pond are the Hooded Mergansers. Are they cool, or what? There have been two pair diving on the pond. They eat fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects.

I can't say for sure, but I suspect by the end of the month, most will have begun their migration back to the north and won't be accessible again locally until next winter. I'm glad I found this pond. It gave me the opportunity to see several varieties of waterfowl I had never seen before.

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