Long Shots of the first Arrivals I have seen this Year
Went for a drive to three locations today, two in the city and one at a provincial park to see what may be arriving.It was a pleasant surprise. I did not get a shot, but rather a quick glimpse of a small group, maybe a dozen, of white birds with black wings, they may have been snow geese. (I was driving).These sightings made for a great day and it was hot and sunny to boot.Some of these photos are not the first I have seen this year, i.e. Ring-billed Gull and Canada Geese
unmistakable pose of a displaying male Goldeneye
A Pair of Northern Shovellers (sorry I couldn’t get the female in the photo)
They are Back!
I was out and about doing errands and took off to a nearby park since it was close to the mall where I had been shopping. Enough errands, it was a gorgeous day outside and the temperature was in the teens. My rubber boots were not in the car which prohibited me from going closer to the water. A man with a camera passed me and asked what I ‘d seen. I replied ” just Chickadees and Blue Jays”. He told me he’d seen about 60 Canada Geese in Hawrelak Park. Off I went.
They congregate in these large puddles where the snow has melted and there was a Pair of Mallards there which is exciting when it is the first sighting this year. I arrived in time to see a male fly in from the area of the pond which happens to be iced over, and a vicious fight ensued. When all was calm everyone went back to their eating and I sat down, watched and took photos.Now that’s a good day. I will show you what other species I saw in the next posts.
Interesting Display from a Male Ruddy Duck
I had no expectations of seeing this fellow but on this day had great luck with spotting the Ruddy Duck.He not only appeared, but also gave quite the show with splashing and sputtering , even coming closer than ever before.
I did not see the reason for this display until I looked at the photos after downloading them. It was then that I saw a female Mallard possibly on a nest.
See for yourself,as this male Ruddy gives quite the performance in this next sequence of photos.
Everyone has to scratch, and sometimes that moment it takes to respond, when this Mallard with her ducklings breaks out of the serene motherly pose, is the moment I like to capture.
f/6.3 21/1600; ISO 800 260mm
The next one is similar , this female goldeneye came out of the pond, made eye contact and came straight toward me except to scratch, then veered away, probably because she saw that I didn’t have any hand-outs.
f/5.6 @ 1/400 sec. ISO 800; 270 mm
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.
Oh Yes! There are Babies After All!
When i took a break from job-hunting, God help me, I went to what is now for me the infamous Hawrelak Park and I spotted some geese, Mallard and Goldeneye families. I felt very happy and even talked to some people nicely that were willing to listen to the downside of feeding the wildlife. That made me very happy to see that some managed to survive the chasing and lazers and god-awful sounds coming from the speakers on the islands. The powers that be are going to gather them up at some point. But for now a brief respite. 🙂
Spring-When It Changes, the Changes are Big
My winter boots are still on the carpet by the door. I used my winter coat just a week ago. I wrote about the ice on my most frequented pond last week.It looked dismal then but now it looks absolutely fabulous! I got away with jeans and a t-shirt yesterday and it was HOT-definitely shorts weather. It is as if we have moved right into summer but after a delay Spring has arrived in Alberta, with the wooden stems on the bushes turning bright red and yellow and the buds are just starting to open. I can smell the earth and the woods and the smoke from the barbeques.
The pond is alive and well with the sight and sound of Canada geese, Lesser Scaups, Common Goldeneyes, Mallards, a Muskrat, Red-necked Grebe, American Wigeons and a couple of young women in bikinis.
Sorry, no bikinis here, just the birds. Oh, I am so in my element! I found ducks and geese right at the waters edge nesting, with the male a short distance away guarding the female.I was impressed with the camouflage, was very close before I saw them until the gander or drake appoached me and quacked or hissed and I backed off , respectfully. The geese were staking out their territory and all were displaying breeding behaviour, a few nesting on the two islands but a couple right beside the walking path.
Here are some shots that I got. Sometimes the light was harsh and I tried to get partially in the shade or with the sun behind me.First the Lesser male and female Scaups. Local naturalists John Acorn and Chris Fisher, in the field guide “Birds of Alberta” describe the male scaup as looking” like an oreo cookie, black at both ends with white in the middle.”
Male Lesser Scaup
Female Lesser Scaup
Nicely -camouflaged Female Mallard Duck
Resting but attentive male Mallard
Male Common Goldeneye Rising in the water
Female Goldeneye Take-Off
Talking Female Mallard
A Canadian Goose Chase
American Crows are Back
Male American Wigeon (did not see any females)
So nice to have Spring come back. I am curious to see when the babies will hatch this year and when I will see the first warblers.Happy shooting, everyone!
Honouring the Mallard
He is a handsome fellow. She has beautiful feathers and speculum.And the ducklings have lovely markings and like all babies, are so cute. How often have I heard myself when looking for ducks, say “Oh, its just a Mallard.” There are so many of them. But I remind myself that I would miss them terribly if they disappeared. I have watched the females with their young and they are quite protective, keeping the young ones close. I am lucky to be able to get close to them at the city ponds where they have accustomed themselves to the approach of humans and do not fly away like their country cousins. Rather than dismiss them I am taking the time to appreciate them today.