Monday, March 25, 2013

Everything is Just Ducky
at Great Meadows

As you wander around Great Meadows you will encounter a number of different species of ducks.  They are pretty spectacular all decked out in their spring breeding plumage.

There seems to be an direct relationship between how colorful the duck is and how skittish they are.  Ring-necked ducks are pretty mello and laid back.  They are often seen cruising in small groups, especially in the lower impoundment.

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Male Ringed-neck

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Female Ringed-neck

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Click on the image to see a larger version to see where they get their name

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Ring-necks in flight

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Female stretching

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Thankfully he's fast, lest she drown


On the other hand, the pretty boy Wood Ducks are some of the most skittish ducks at Great Meadows.  On rare occasions you will see them in open water close to shore.  More commonly, you will hear them flying away as they see you before you see them.  Keep your eyes pealed for them swimming in among the reeds.  Don't be surprised if you do see one sitting in a tree.

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Male Wood Duck

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Side by side comparison of male & female Wood Ducks

Ducks are divided into divers and dabblers.  Among the diving ducks that you will regularly see at Great Meadows are:

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Male Goldeneyes

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Male Bufflehead

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Male & Female Bufflehead

Our most common dabbling duck is the mallard. They are the Rodney Dangerfield of ducks ... they get no respect, at least around here where they are so plentiful. Elsewhere birders would find the male's iridescent green head quite attractive.

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Male Mallard

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I forgot I had taken this shot, until I got home and was reviewing the photos. I like how it looks like the female Mallard is shaking off the water like a dog

One of my personal favorites is the Hooded Merganser. Both the male and females have fancy head crests. The male's is black & white design, while the female's is a plain but pretty cinnamon color. Since they are diving ducks these crests are often wet back, but keep a watch out for when they display the full crest.

These is a pair that can often be seen near the observation deck. They appear to be getting somewhat habituated to people, so they have been swimming closer to shore....of course that may also be because they feed in shallower water.

Hopefully they will decide to raise a family here this year. Since they are cavity nesters pay attention to our many dead trees, or perhaps they will set up housekeeping in one of the many duck boxes.
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Male & Female Hooded Merganser

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Male Merganser showing off

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Though they are somewhat habituated to people, they really don't like it when you approach them too rapidly / closely or talk too loudly which unfortunately two people did while I was photographing them. Thankfully I kept my eye to the camera and got a couple of flight shots as they left to find a calmer, quieter spot.
Updated: To replace accidentally double posted photo with the correct photo.

1 comment:

  1. You've got the hooded merganser photo displayed twice. The first should be a goldeneye. Proof-reading by Alan, no charge.

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