Posts Tagged With: ducks

King of the Pond vs the Demon Duck

I don’t visit Vischer Ferry much during the summer. But as the days get shorter the clouds of mosquitoes thin out, and once again I can check the paths for migrating birds.

It’s not just that fall plumage warblers are harder to tell apart, but the thick foliage only allows frustrating brief glimpses of birds in quick motion. Nevertheless I was able to find a half-dozen warbler species: Black-and-white, Canada, Magnolia, American Redstart, Blue-winged, and Common (should be Ubiquitous) Yellowthroat. And for all the pictures I took, I don’t think I got one feather in focus…

Some people say Roger Tory Peterson’s one error was labeling that plate ‘Confusing Fall Warblers.’ It sets up an expectation of difficulty that is, with a few exceptions, exaggerated. It might have been more accurate to say ‘Fall Warblers: Easier than silent sparrows!’ Or ‘You want confusing? Check out shorebirds!’

Waterfowl are a lot more cooperative. This Great Blue Heron stood like a sculpture framed in green.

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At a nearby reservoir, male Wood Ducks were transitioning into nuptial plumage. This fellow’s blue-green iridescent wings caught my attention, but it’s his eye that makes the picture.

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I’d never noticed that furious crimson eye so clearly before. Probably because full breeding plumage is so stunning!

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This was taken a bit later in the season last year, in October. For some reason he had formed an attachment to a female Mallard and escorted her all around their little pond.

Categories: bird behavior, Bird photos, ducks, herons, vischer ferry | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Duck duck no geese.

Yay, I got out for a bit of birding today! Most local reports were coming from the Mohawk so we headed out to cover the Cohoes -to-Crescent run.

There were not large numbers of waterfowl, but a nice variety. The usual Mallards and Common Mergansers appeared wherever the water was open. The best spot was by the Crescent hydropower plant, where this flock of mixed Aythya ducks (plus one odd fellow) gathered.

I’m going to do my best on ID here. Correction welcome!

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The leftmost bird is a female Canvasback. They’re pretty uncommon around here. Next are two Redheads and three Scaup sp? Leading the pack, with the white band near the tip of his bill, is a Ring-necked Duck.

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The ones with red heads are Redheads (duh), and the white-sided ones I’m hazarding are Greater Scaup, because they’re a really clean white, while the almost-identical Lesser Scaup is a bit grayer. If you look closely, one duck in the middle has a bit of white on its face above the bill — that’s a female Scaup sp. Front left is the Canvasback.

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Aythya ducks at rest, and here comes the odd man out. Cruising towards the flock is a very handsome male Long-tailed Duck.

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Isn’t he a beauty? You’ll see his eponymous tail in the next picture.

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The Canvasback is in the center of the flock here. Her long neck is a good field mark.

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Quiz time! How many species here?

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The fifth bird from the left might be a Lesser Scaup. I wish I could be sure, because the we’d have all five local Aythya species in one small flock.

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They were quite distant by now.

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And where were the gulls today? I was hoping to see Iceland and Glaucous but we only had the three year-round species, and not many of them. The ice here above the spillway is usually wall-to-wall squawking squabbling gulls. At least three Bald Eagles wandered around setting up the few gulls present.

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“What am I, chopped liver?”

Also seen but not photographed, three circling Black Vultures! And if the first vulture isn’t a sign of spring, I’d like to know what is.

OK, since you’re obviously dying to know, the local Aythya ducks are Greater and Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked, Redhead, and Canvasback. In that order, Aythya marila, affinis, collaris, americana, and valisneria. The Long-tailed Duck rejoices in the name of Clangula hyemalis.

Categories: Bird photos, Field trip, First of season, Rara avis, scenery | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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