Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ducks Unlimited!

On my way to pick up Kat at school this afternoon, I took a chance and stopped at the Duck Pond on College Ave. again. First, I SAW THE "FREE-ROAMING" BUNNIES! There were five big giants of some sort (Flemish? they were a medium nutty reddish-brown)--I would've gauged their sizes from very large to huge--like a medium-sized dog. They were not exactly, however, roaming free as that sign had indicated. They were in a hurricane-fenced enclosure that was probably 40x40ish. There were all sorts of little bushes and stumps and rocks and things to vary their terrain, along with some pretty well-worn paths. Interesting. I saw a sign on the enclosure that said something like, "Absolutely no dogs or cats beyond this point." Good idea. Those rabbits might hurt a mere cat or dog!

So I turned away from the bunnies and went to see what was going on at the pond. Lo and behold--a lifer. Along with the 25-30 mallards, those two big black-and-white ducks, 5-6 Canada geese, and a tufted titmouse, I saw a ring-necked duck! I wasn't sure at the time what he was, but I took some notes and made some little drawings of his most distinctive features--his oddly pointed head with dark purplish feathers, very distinctive bill pattern with ring at base of bill tracing down sides to prominent ring around end of bill, dark gold eye, black body with sharply defined white pattern on each side. I came home and checked a few web sites, BT3's Identify Yourself, and my Stokes guide, and I'm confident of my ID. WOW! A lifer! I really had only ever seen the kind of ducks you see on farms (like the black-and-white big couple) or mallards, so this was a real thrill! OF COURSE I didn't have the Nikon! That would've been too simple, and I do mean simple; the ducks at this pond are rather used to road and human traffic. The ducks pretty much stayed right along the edge of the pond next to the back road alongside the pond, so I didn't get out of the car, for fear of spooking them. I had my tiny monocular (8x20) from Surplus Shed, so at least I was able to get a good view. But if I had had the camera--gees!

So I watched the ducks for a while, then got Kat, then came home. Roana Fuller had told me that someone had seen a green-winged teal on the marsh yesterday, so I got out the binocs and the scope and started looking. I was watching some mallards when I saw the red and green head--lifer #2 for the day! A green-winged teal male! I was viewing from the porch window, so I was up higher than usual; still, a photo was next to impossible due to grass, trees, and a setting sun. I'm hoping he's there tomorrow--I'll try to get him on camera! The other birds on the marsh:

Great blue heron--as I was oohing and aahing over the teal, who should float gracefully into scopeview but this heron! HUGE adult. Swept over the ponds and landed among the tall grass, disappearing from sight very near to the tree I saw him perched on several times early last summer.

Belted kingfisher--only one today


Red-winged blackbird--a million

Eastern starling--just a couple here and there, among the red-wings

Cooper’s or Red-tail? couldn’t see because of branches; he was in the crook of two branches in a tree at the back of the marsh on Penns Creek's banks.

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal at the feeder, along with some grackles, mourning doves, song sparrows, and red-winged blackbirds. Roana advised that I leave the feeders empty for a couple of days, to try to get the grackles to move on. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wow, what a day! Two lifers to add to my list, and a new bird for the marsh list. I don't believe I've posted the marsh list yet; I think this is everyone, not counting the usual songbirds that hang out at my feeders:

Red-winged blackbirds
Green heron
Great blue heron
Cooper's hawk
Red-tailed hawk
Belted kingfisher
American bittern
American black duck
Sora (ID'd by Roana Fuller)
Green-winged teal*
Hooded merganser*
Eastern bluebird

The ones with * are 2007 first-sightings so far. I'm sure there are many more species out there, and I'm hoping to ID them this summer. I was discussing with Roana the idea of erecting a sort-of temporary blind out closer to the ponds, but we decided that a viewing tower might be better. So I might be able to get this by Kat; I'm not sure yet. Either I'll make a tower, or I'll make a treehouse-like platform on top of the crazy uncle house! I need to do a study of just how much wood I have in my workshop; I'm hoping I have enough for some sort of platform. Building it on top of the little house sounds pretty easy, especially given my knowledge of carpentry AND trigonometry! I'll view the whole project as one big word problem, with angles of elevation, 45-45-90 triangles, and a2+b2=c2 (pretend those are exponents--superscript 2s, okay?). Only I'll have to try to keep the words "fell off the roof," "put her foot through the roof," and "several hundred dollars later" OUT of this word problem. I can't see Kat approving of any of those. . . .

So--off to do some trig homework and revel in the glow of a two-lifebird day. As Birdchick would say, WHOOT!


Susan Gets Native said...

Great list for the day, D!
I love ring-necked ducks...but their name is so stupid. You can't see the darn ring out in the field! I call them "whale-sided" ducks, for the white outline of a kid's drawing of a whale on their flanks.

Mary said...

WHOOT! You list is quite impressive, Delia! What a great day you had.

Since I just began sincere bird watching, I haven't made a list yet. If I needed to, I'd have to read my posts since I got a new camera for Christmas. Isn't that a shame? I'll get to it one day. But I know my list isn't as long has yours!!!

Good luck with that trig. Blech!

mon@rch said...

The sora is a great bird!