Sunday, March 15, 2015

Just a Little Pond

I can't get over the great multitude and variety of ducks I have been seeing at a local pond. You might think it is out "in the wilds," but I could be standing in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in thirty minutes if I wanted to, it's that close! This pond is the smaller of two on either side of a railroad track. It is approximately 1 and 1/2 football fields in length and about the same width as a football field.

There are four varieties of birds in this image. The bird all the way to the left is a male Canvasback (20-30). The black and gray bird just to it's left is a male Ring-necked duck (50-100+). The ducks on either side of that duck are male Redneck ducks(20-30). The second black duck on the left is a male Lesser Scaup (20-30), also known as a "bluebill" by duck hunters. Over on the right at the top are two (Black) American Coots (6) which are neither considered waterfowl nor ducks. Since this seems to be a boy's club, I would be willing to bet the two Coots are also male — but there is no way to distinguish. The numbers in parentheses are an estimate of how many of each species are on the pond. They are not an accurate count but a simple estimate. These are all divers and prefer the deeper portions of the pond.

The shallow end of the pond is attractive to Canada Geese (up to 200+) as a safe place to rest — although it wouldn't surprise me if some do not nest in the background swamp area. Notice the turtle that has hauled out on the log over on the left to warm himself. I have seen quite a few turtles at this pond too, but nothing like the pond where the photos I posted a few days ago were taken. The colorful orange and green male ducks and their mottled brown mates are Northern Shovelers which love to sift mud with their specialized bills in the shallows.

I have only senn one pair of American Wigeon on the pond. The male is on the left and I have included an inset which shows a slightly different angle with the brush-stroke-like splash of green behind the eye. They are in the family of dabbling ducks which can be commonly seen tipped up on end like Mallards. Oddly, and as an aside, there are almost no Mallards on this pond.

These beautiful ducks of muted tans and browns are Gadwall. The female is the mottled bird on the left. Most female ducks wear similar mottled camo to make it hard for predators to spot them on the nest. I'm not sure why one pond is more attractive than the other, but the larger pond supports as many as two hundred Gadwall and as many Ring-neck while the smaller pond usually contains only a handful of Gadwall. They both enjoy eating submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV).

To be continued...

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