Category Archives: Duck

Female Bufflehead

Small, compact and swimming at a steady pace, I thought this was a Grebe at first when I caught a glimpse through the reeds.

Female Bufflehead
Female Bufflehead

I was able to get to a gap in the reeds for a better view and discovered it was a female Bufflehead. I listened and looked on both sides of the marsh dike where I was walking and didn’t see any others.

Female Bufflehead
Female Bufflehead

Merganser Drama

This Hooded Merganser was outnumbered, by Common Gallinules of all things. Gallinules tend to stick to the edges of any waterway and mind their own business except for their cackling squawks which always alerts the whole area to a photographer’s presence. Or so I thought.

Hooded Merganser and Gallinules
Hooded Merganser and Gallinules

The Gallinules quickly got into the Merganser’s space.

Hooded Merganser and Gallinules
Hooded Merganser and Gallinules

He tried out paddling them.

Hooded Merganser and Gallinules
Hooded Merganser and Gallinules

They followed so the  Merganser opted to put some extra distance between them.

Hooded Merganser and Gallinules
Hooded Merganser and Gallinule

Finally, a spot of his own.

Hooded Merganser
Hooded Merganser

Blue-winged Teals Over the Marsh

Last Saturday was a spectacular bird day at Bear Island Wildlife Management Area and these Blue-winged Teals were one of the many groups of birds I saw. The water had been lowered in some of the back ponds which attracts the wading birds, shore birds and migrating ducks.

The reeds at the edge of the canals are above my head in most places so I did not have a clear view of the teals until they took off.

Blue-winged Teals in Flight
Blue-winged Teals in Flight

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

This is the first Whistling Duck I have seen in South Carolina. He was perched high in a tree over a pond and I couldn’t even tell what it was until I zoomed in on the image in my camera.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Tree
Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Tree

The duck periodically threw his head back and made a very un-duck like sounding call.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Tree
Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Tree

A pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks flew by, but didn’t slow down to listen to the one in the tree and he didn’t make any effort to join them.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck Pair Flying
Black-bellied Whistling Duck Pair Flying

There was still about a half hour until sunset, but the sun, which was behind me, was disappearing into a cloud bank, taking the light and any possibility of a colorful sunset with it.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Tree
Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Tree

Young Wood Ducks

As juvenile Wood Ducks grow it becomes harder to tell them from the adult females. These two were hanging out getting some sun on a recent afternoon, showing some of their newly developed colors.

Wood Ducks
Wood Ducks

Not content to just sit, one of them took a walk to the other end of the ramp to see what a third duck was up to.

Wood Ducks
Wood Ducks

The alligator ramp they are on is not far from shore and any ducks that are on it usually head for the middle of the pond after a few photographs by passers by.

Wood Ducks
Wood Ducks

Where Did Everyone Go?

A group of nine Wood Ducks were hanging out on an Alligator Ramp, preening and enjoying the late afternoon sun late last week.

Wood Ducks on Ramp
Wood Ducks on Ramp

Nothing in particular seemed to have startled them, but by twos and threes they flew off.

Wood Ducks on Ramp
Wood Ducks Flying Away from Ramp

As the ducks shifted around some flashes of blue were evident. Some of the adult males have lost their full breeding colors and the juvenile males are starting to show some color.

Wood Ducks Flying
Wood Ducks Flying

One juvenile was left by herself, pacing up and down. She finally decided joining the pack was the right thing to do.

Wood Duck Left Alone
Wood Duck Left Alone

Three Wood Duck Ducklings

A mother Wood Duck usually stays with her ducklings until they are grown to near adult size, the “teen age” stage. The males are sometimes around but don’t seem to supervise the young the way I’ve seen the females herd their charges around.

Three Wood Duck Ducklings
Three Wood Duck Ducklings

No adult was in sight for these three ducklings and I suspect the mother became lunch for a predator. The survival rate for the ducklings is low and the adults can fall victim to alligators, hawks, or eagles. These three were sticking together, swimming around the pond to various perches.  As plant eaters these ducklings don’t rely on the parent bringing food, they just eat what is around them.

Three Wood Duck Ducklings
Three Wood Duck Ducklings

This board they are settled on is an Alligator ramp that has been slowly sinking into the pond over the last year.

Three Wood Duck Ducklings
Three Wood Duck Ducklings

The surface of the pond is covered with a mixture of green Duck Weed  and some variation of Mosquito Fern, the red plant. Zoom in on the closer image of the dragonfly perched on the surface to see the plants in more detail.

Dragonfly on Duck Weed and Mosquito Fern
Dragonfly on Duck Weed and Mosquito Fern

Wood Duck Family

The oldest Wood Duck chicks on the pond right now are almost indistinguishable from their mothers.

Wood Duck Family
Wood Duck Family

This old alligator platform gets smaller every week, either sinking or rotting into the pond. This small family squeezes together on it to groom and soak up the afternoon sun.

Wood Duck Family
Wood Duck Family

From the end of the pond you get a view of the platform with the sun glaring off the duckweed. In silhouette you can see mother duck standing a little taller and with more head feathers than her four youngsters. She had turned just a bit to see which way I was headed.

Wood Duck Family
Wood Duck Family

Wood Ducks in Cypress Swamp

Perched on a log a group of male Wood Ducks were just hanging around, doing some stretching.

Wood Duck
Wood Duck Stretching

At least three were lined up on this log and a few more were in the water behind this clump of trees.

Wood Duck
Wood Ducks

Time for a swim, one by one they took to the water.

Wood Duck
Wood Duck

There is an open pond at the edge of the cypress swamp and this fellow was going off on his own.

Wood Duck
Wood Duck on Pond

Taking the Leap

Undecided, this Wood Duck drake paced on top of the nesting box. Were there hatchlings inside about to pop out? Was he waiting for a mate? Questions I never got the answers to.

Wood Duck Diving
Wood Duck Diving

Eventually he took a plunge off the side.

Wood Duck Diving
Wood Duck Diving

Splash down!

Wood Duck Splash Down
Wood Duck Splash Down

A short paddle took him back to the box. He spent some time contemplating his next move under the protection of some overhanging branches.

Wood Duck Splash Down
Wood Duck Splash Down