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Posts tagged “ducks

Back to Nature

I am a person who wants to get things done yesterday, especially concerning unpacking in my new digs. I settled for some balance and let the boxes be and drove to a couple of water spots in  or near the city. A lot of water fowl were not present : Pelicans, Red-necked Grebes, and Great Blue Heron, but the Ring-Billed Gulls, Double-Crested Cormorants, Mallard Ducks and American Coots were still around. oh, and of course Magpies.The vegetation has changed considerably since before the move, not surprising  since there is a lot less light but I still had a bit of a pout for missing most of August due to packing..soon the leaves will be at their natural finest, in fact some are changing now.

It was good to get out and see some feathered friends and even a curious squirrel.it was great to play with the camera again, too.

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Mallard Duck in an Idyllic setting

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Some Stolen Moments-and a “Lifer”

A “lifer” is a term used by birders for a sighting of a bird that you have never seen before. I took time after errands yesterday to visit a pond north of the city. There were a lot of geese there, some mallards and a flash of white way across the pond. A  Common Golden Eye? A Bufflehead? No, there were more markings. I took some photos of this dandy from a long way away, then walked around the circumference of the pond to try to get closer.People  walking their dogs paid a visit and there were some photos of close-up branches but I just did not have the footing to get down an incline through fairly dense under brush. Returning to the viewing site, I was delighted that the Mallards and this Hooded Merganser were coming to me, probably to be fed.

I may have seen a male Merganser before but only due to another person’s claim, not close enough to really see it for myself. I was delighted that he paid me a visit and can add him to my life list.This is one of the first shots zoomed in at 300 mm, and shot in manual mode when he was far away.

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These shots are taken when he came closer. Two are cropped but mostly no adjustments other than lighting.

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Welcome Mallard Family!

Oh, they are so (yes, I will say it) cute! It gave me such joy to know that they escaped the duck police , as David referred to it. I enjoyed observing how the mother duck went over the barrier and when some were having difficulty she came back, herded them closer to the foam then pushed them up with her body until they could grab hold and scramble over. The male Mallard although not in the photo stays close by and guards the area, and if I am not mistaken, creates distraction when other s come too close.There are nine ducklings.

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Hawrelak 118-2


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Get Rid of the Birds RANT

Something stinks in this city and it isn’t just bird poop.The City of Edmonton wants to get rid of the birds from its parks. Too much poop and it interferes with the public events and if we get a swimming pool or beach or restaurant (let’s develop the beautiful river valley and make it more people-friendly).

The skyline is going UP.


I agree, the poop is a large problem. The people are  a large problem. We haven’t got the money to enforce the “no feeding” laws so the solution is to get rid of the birds.

A lot of people like to feed the geese and ducks and this in part has created huge over-population and bacteria problems. So the city and the University of Alberta have joined forces to deal with the problem. Not the problem of the people. The problem of the geese. And ducks Oh, and that pair of red-necked grebes that are nesting in Hawrelak park? Well that is a shame, isn’t it?  Tsk. Tsk.

We all have to listen to the annoying recordings of stressed chicks, cries of raptors, etc. –  that doesn’t fool any of us, bird or human.The university is  bringing a black lab to chase the geese after sunset and shining green lazers on the islands and shores.Now THAT must be working. I have not seen one offspring this year.



Unnatural behaviour of the birds crowding the edge to feed. The blue is a wake board that has been discarded.ImageOn the notice that was posted recently, it says that it is humane. I don’t buy that. I phoned the city to complain about the lack of enforcement. I encounter dog poop on the trails and wildlife harassment from these pets that are running loose. A couple of years ago the laws allowed dogs in the park, on lese and on-trail only. Well, that’s a joke.Though there is lots of poop from the geese, now there is poop from the dogs on the trail and I see so much garbage left behind from the humans.it is hard to take a photo without garbage in it.

There is over population-people are not supposed to feed the birds. But as you see in these photos there is total disregard for the signs. they sit in front of the signs and feed the birds little knowing that this behaviour is the cause of the over-population and the poop and of the movement to chase the birds away.


After reading the sign I approached people like a mad middle-aged woman that I am, yelling about how the city hates the ducks and geese.They laughed at me and said “oh ya, we hate the geese”. as they threw bread to them. (I was acting crazy, I was crazy with grief over the loss of green space in this city and the wildlife within its boundaries) Last year when I kindly told a man that bread is bad for them. he replied that I was a know-it-all, that these geese are his “friends” and he fed them whole grain bread because it was better for them. He also told me to f-off.

Some of the people that come to the park say they like the geese. You are killing them with your kindness. Yes there are lots, they will never be extinct this year.. One generation lost at this park  won’t make a big dint. One person feeding isn’t a big deal . But when you multiply that by hundreds it is a big deal.

I phoned the city  number for animal control that was listed on the U of A sheet and the person that i spoke to didn’t realize the city number for animal control is on the sheet and said that she did not realize the full extent of the actions that the university was taking.When I talked to someone at the university they said the goal of the city is to chase  the fowlaway from the parks.

I asked why there was no enforcement by the by-law officers. There are, but there are only two for all the parks in the city and more are being trained for the summer months. I am not sure what I believe.I have had an inkling that the city wanted to chase the birds away since I saw the fake coyotes last year before the big triathelon and heard talk of beaches and swimming pools.

Gosh, just think, if the city enforced the park by-laws, this may be a good way to keep some of the geese and ducks,   hire staff to educate families about nature and gee, it might even  be a good way to raise money for the new hockey arena that is costing billions.

First Blush of Spring

It is refreshing to see the grass turning green and the leaves unfurling from the buds. The temperature is warm and hearts are light.It seems like spring is late but photos from a couple of years ago tell me that the ice was on the pond until the end of April. Perhaps it seemed like such a long winter because it always is here in Central Alberta with six months of snow.

Today is a celebration of spring. The birds are mating, including a pair of red-necked Grebes  and during an early morning walk at the pond I heard my first warbler and saw it too, although way high up in the trees.My heart sang to hear the call of the Yellow-Rumped Warbler, though this was a “Myrtle rather than the usual Audobon’s variety.




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Frosted Duck

My journey yesterday didn’t stop at Elk Island.Just inside the city limits on Baseline Road I turned right to Goldbar Park. I like this spot. It is good for birding, cross-country skiing, and walking the dog off-leash.


There is a water-treatment plant in the park and warm water rushes into the river and keeps it somewhat ice- free. Beautiful hoar frost forms on the branches of the trees surrounding the culvert from which the water spews out.


Dozens of ducks overwinter here because of the open water and judging from the bunches of  feathers that I saw every 50 feet on the trail they are providing a dinner for the predators as well.A golden eagle? A coyote? This is a good reason to come back.


It was enjoyable to see the large number of mallards in their full colours flying back and forth and it seemed like an oxymoron to see them in the river beside snow-covered banks.


The water was a pretty but unnatural blue in the area where it emptied into the river.The air had changed from the old sewer smell in the past to a sweet, perfume-like smell. It wasn’t long before I was coughing rather forcefully, triggered perhaps by the scent?


I find it ironic that while it is a haven for birds and outdoor enthusiasts this area is adjacent to refinery row. You can smell the gas as soon as you come near the area, even in your vehicle.There are a couple of  places in the city that are great bird sites but in the worst of pollution conditions.

This situation repeats itself on a larger scale in the provinces too. Land that is earmarked for wildlife preservation is adjacent to land that is being exploited by industry.That is a story that books could be written about, and are.Enough said, you get my point.

More on the Goldeneye Duck

A most entertaining duck, the  male Goldeneye has breeding behaviour that includes tilting his head backwards and letting out a squawk to get the female’s attention. The female seems more bold about coming up to people for a handout once she realizes that some are a food source.

They have positions and “looks” that are just downright comical some of which I may add later since I can’t find them now. See for yourself.

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough


©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough


©Jane Chesebrough

Baby Bobber Birds

The first ducklings on the ponds that I see in the spring are the Goldeneyes. My friend called them “Baby Bobber Birds” because  after  they dive, they pop up to the surface  like those bobbers that are used for fishing. At first I thought the mother was somewhat neglectful as I saw her offspring spread out across the waters seemingly alone.Then I noticed what happens when another duck gets too close. The protective mother is on the attack. She can be quite aggressive and has a sneaky method where she dives under water a little ways from her target then comes up underneath her victim and bites them.  In this series a mother Goldeneye is on a rock with two ducklings (maybe hers, or maybe two she has stolen).As she dives into the water one of them is knocked off the rock into the water.She attacks another female and after chasing her away, returns to the rock . All three are united , first on the rock then they go to  shore. I want to share these photos so you too, can appreciate them.

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

My How They Have Grown!

I went to the pond with a friend today and saw the goslings .They look like teenagers now. Twice the size. Saw some ducklings, too, both Mallards and Goldeneyes. Spent a long time observing them. I noticed that the goldeneyes especially seem to run across the top of the water and they are so light that they can walk across the top of the  algea. Also, when they dive they don’t just dunk under the water but leap up into the air then dive-amazingly agile! The pond is full of yucky green stuff and fluff which doesn’t look nice in a photo but doesn’t seem to hurt the ducks and geese. I heard the parks people oil the eggs so they won’t hatch and I hear recordings of birds of prey and distressed chicks  and it may keep some away but sure doesn’t fool all of them.I am happy that I can get so close to wild ducks and geese in the city parks because I could never get this close to their country cousins.

©Jane Chesebrough Swimtime

©Jane Chesebrough Mallards

©Jane Chesebrough Taking a Dive

©Jane Chesebrough    The Older Goslings

Must Return to this Place

Today I went to a location in the city near a water treatment station where the warm run-off attracts various birds in the winter. I had  also heard that  an eagle or even two were spotted in the area a month ago. What were my chances?

I was amazed by the presence of hundreds of mallards floating downstream then flying up the river, over and over. A friendly passerby pointed out to me that this is how they search for food. There was a lot of open water for this time of year even with the warm run-off and I took time to watch them and listen to hundreds of wing beats and swoosh as they hit the water. A couple of dogs approached me with great enthusiasm and I obliged then by throwing the sticks that they carried in their mouth…instant friendship!

After taking images of some plants, watching the ducks and watching the sky I noticed a possible raptor flying very high. I encouraged it in my mind to come closer, and it did. It took a couple of sweeps up and down the river sending the ducks in flight for their lives before it returned to higher hatmospheres. I missed getting a shot of what I recognised as a first-year Bald Eagle other than  a sloppy shot of a ghost image amongst the scattering ducks -did manage to get a long-distance  shot. My sloppy shots are included here because I was so excited and  promised myself to return to this place to face my new challenge-get closer and get more.

The Ducks are Back

©Jane Chesebrough

I have been enjoying seeing the return of the ducks to this area-as you can see we still have a lot of ice on the ponds. This pair of Common Goldeneye ducks are showing breeding display with the male tipping his head back and giving a akkk sound-rather comical. I just bought a Sigma 70-300mm telephoto lens with a macro option on the last 100 mm. No image stabilizer but getting better at it and loving the results. So nice to zoom in on my fair feathered friends.