Some of the returning Canada Geese settle on the little river for a break on the journey north. You can see them along the length of the river where the road parallels its meandering course. Many form flotillas on the water, while others pad about the adjacent farm pastures.
Ducks have begun to arrive too. I saw a pair of Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) a few days ago, but they didn’t stick around to have their picture taken. They are small ducks and the male has a conspicuous white wedge at the back of his dark head, which makes him easy to identify. More common are the Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). There are often several pairs to be seen.
The Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) are my favorites. Until last spring, I hadn’t seen any in the wild. The males, with their elegant colouring, are certainly amongst the most beautiful of ducks.
None of the ducks seem to stay into the nesting season, but move on to better habitat. I would like to try mounting a Wood Duck nesting box, a project for next year maybe, although I’m not sure their is sufficient appropriate habitat by the river to allow a pair to raise a family there.
It’s nice to see the ducks, but on Monday I saw a real favorite: the first Great Blue Heron (Ardia herodias) of the year! Apparently he wasn’t as happy to see me as I was to see him, and took off before I was able to get more than one ghostly photograph. But that’s okay. Unlike the ducks, the heron is probably here to stay.
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Posted in Birds, tagged Aix sponsa, Anas platyrhynchos, Branta canadensis, Canada Geese, Common Grackle, Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus, Mallard, Quiscalus quiscula, Wood Ducks on March 26, 2009 |
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Hooded Merganser pair
The south branch of the South Nation river runs by the back door of Willow House. In the morning, I can lean on the kitchen counter and gaze out the window as I wait for my coffee to brew. The river is always interesting, but since the ice melted off, an assortment of waterfowl have been stopping by, causing me to rush for my camera. The above pair of Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus), shown near the beaver lodge, were very camera shy, swimming rapidly away or taking flight as soon as they caught sight of me.
This pair of Canada geese (Branta canadensis), who spent the afternoon enjoying the sun at the edge of the river, were more co-operative, though still wary.
Three pairs of Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) floated by and then paddled back up stream.
A Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and his missus spent a few hours grooming themselves on the shore.
Passerines (songbirds) such as these Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) also use the river to bathe and drink.
At the end of the day, the river and its occupants settle down … or start their busy night’s activity … as the sun sets.
*Creedence Clearwater Revival: Lookin’ Out My Back Door
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