Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Neighbourhood Fauna

Nearby to where I live there is a creek catering to wild ducks and other creatures. Summer or winter there are various groups of wild ducks, mostly mallards, though there have been some unusually coloured ones: various shades of black and white, and brown and white with or without white breasts and white underneath.


[1 –Male Pintail - brown or black body with long black tail feathers]

The only species I could find in my bird book were the Northern Pintail, whom fly south for the winter.




[2 –Female Pintail - has a slightly shorter tail and grayish bill]

There was a late group of young ducks hatched in the summer and I wonder how they are faring the winter. Perhaps they will return this spring so I can get a photo or two of them. There was one in particular that caught my attention whenever I crossed the bridge to do errands.



[3 -Mallard on ice - click to enlarge]




The mallards are braver to withstand the cold and have lingered so far, sometimes the only indication of their being present are the webbed shaped footprints left in the snow on the creek. It was strange to see them paddling in melted water atop ice waiting for the next donation of bread crumbs or slices.





















[4 -Mallard drake and hen - click to enlarge]

Source: A Field Guide to the Birds of North America (2006) by Michael Vanner, p.54-55.

Photo Credits: [1]-Brendan Btally CC=flickr, [2]-Alan_Vernon CC=flickr, [3]-Grant MacDonald CC=nc-flickr, [4]-wolfpix CC=nd-flickr.

18 comments:

Leah J. Utas said...

It amazes me how ducks, birds in general really, manage in the winter.

Reader Wil said...

Hi Barbara! These photos are outstanding! I have never seen the ducks of the first two photos. Our wild ducks are mallards! Did your lovebirds really react to the sounds of the lyrebird? How lovely!

Phoenix C. said...

We had an unusually severe early winter here, and I'm hoping the ducks have survived, as a lot of lakes and ponds were frozen solid.

I love the sound of coots among the reeds - such an atmospheric feel!

Travis Erwin said...

I love the beauty of waterfowl.

They are one of the few game animal I never hunt. I can't stand the taste and I don't shoot what i won't eat.

Barbara Martin said...

Leah, currently its frigid with blowing winds with interspersing warmer days which melt the snow on the creek allowing the ducks to paddle for awhile. I provide wild bird seed when I can and its gobbled up by my return trip. They really go for corn.

Wil, mallards are an ancient breed of duck and are ancestors of our domestic duck.

Yes, the loverbirds were quite excited going as far as tipping their food dish upside down in an effort to get my attention.

Barbara Martin said...

Phoenix, I'll try and get photos of the creek in summer. It's quite lovely as long as I can hide the markings of civilization. There are angles which capture a feeling of a wilderness within a metropolitan city.

Barbara Martin said...

Travis, I've had wild duck years ago that my Father had hunted. I felt sorry for them after peeking into the bag he brought them home in. They taste a bit oily, but that's from whatever their diet was. They eat insects and vegetation, and forage the corn and grain fields in late summer.

Charles Gramlich said...

Love that male pintail's white and black. VEry dramatic.

Michael Offutt said...

One of my fondest memories of childhood was watching my mother escort a momma duck and her babies across an intersection so that they could go swim in the local canal. It was funny watching the traffic pile-up.

Teresa said...

I love the pictures. The pintails at the top are lovely.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Here in Florida, we have Muscovi ducks, so ugly they are cute. When we lived on a lake years ago, we cared for some babies that became our teachers.These guys are special - not just Muscovis, but all ducks.

Barbara Martin said...

Charles, the Northern Pintails tend to live in more open spaces than suburbs. Perhaps ducks interbreed within their types.

Barbara Martin said...

Michael, that's quite the feat to get young birds across a roadway. I've seen a pair of Canada Geese take their goslings across four lanes of traffic by themselves, holding up traffic until their brood is across the road. It's a charming scene.

Barbara Martin said...

Teresa, I'll be sure to post more birds for you.

Barbara Martin said...

Trish and Rob, any wildlife can be entertaining while teaching us a little about ourselves in the process.

David Cranmer said...

Mallards are without a doubt my favorites. Marvelous pics, Barbara.

(Btw I have a post on the 16th that introduces a new bundle I'm pretty proud of.)

Viola said...

So sweet and lovely!! I just love it! :)

Barbara Martin said...

David, more duck photos this summer.

Viola, I'm waiting for the leaves to come out and then the creek nearby should be picture perfect. Now its full of brown rushing water and right up to the top of the bank. No ducks in sight, though yesterday I thought I heard geese honking overhead.