Blue-winged Teals often eat in circles, almost like a choreographed dance of vacuum cleaners. There was plenty of duckweed to go around on this day and the wind was keeping it concentrated in one side of the pond, keeping the ducks near the walking path.
The duck’s movements leaves trails in the duckweed, indistinguishable from a path made by an underwater Alligator.
These three female Teals stayed in a row for quite awhile, perhaps because there is safety in numbers.
When the light hits them just right the iridescence on the males’ heads is quite pretty.
A few Gadwalls have been hanging out at Ravenswood Pond for the winter. They have been pretty quick to move to the middle or far side of the pond if they sense any human activity. On this day this small group took their time passing by me.
They will be heading out soon on their spring migration.
This scene is looking the length of this rectangular, man-made pond. The “skinny tree” I sometimes mention is hosting a Great Blue Heron and can be made out on the right.
There is duck weed all around the pond and some other bright green pond vegetation has thrived on the right-hand side.
This pair of Mottled Ducks was swimming in and out of patches of late afternoon sun on a shallow pond.
I stopped at a bench at the edge of the pond and they watched me as I watched them.
Baily Tract, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
January 6, 2020
I used the Merlin App to identify these as Mottled Ducks. Further reading at Cornell’s All About Birds:
It’s reminiscent of a female Mallard or an American Black Duck, but this is the closely related Mottled Duck. They’re so closely related that hybridization, especially with Mallards, poses a real threat to the Mottled Duck’s future.
In Florida, hybridization with introduced Mallards has produced many so-called “Muddled Ducks,” and care is needed to confirm identification of a “pure” Mottled Duck.
Ducks have been showing up around the various ponds I frequent and I was hoping for some decent in-flight views. The ducks had other ideas this day and kept their flight patterns close to the marsh grass.
A Great Blue Heron was a little more obliging as he winged past me.
Yesterday was the first time I’ve seen more than two or three Wood Ducks together since last spring’s ducklings matured earlier in the summer.
Several were lined up on an Alligator ramp as I approached and a few small groups were paddling around in the pond. They tend to be skittish and their general direction was away from me, but a couple more flew onto the ramp.
I heard a Hawk call in the distance and these two groups and about twenty more that I didn’t even know were there in the tree line along my path flew off in a frenzy. Sadly, no photos of that!
I’ve stopped to watch Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in this marshy area several times this summer. One day last week a few were quite close to the walk way and were less skittish than on previous visits.
Some of the chicks are nearly adult size but are still sticking close to a parent.
This one had been standing on the end of the of the walkway and decided to join the others…
…landing in the short greenery with the family group behind him.