Monday, March 31, 2014

A Good Day For Ducks -

Although even some of the ducks didn't want to get out of bed!  
We had a very soggy weekend here in NYC. Saturday, it rained steadily for the entire day. TQ and I had hoped to paddle but we scratched that in favor of lazy day inside. Sunday it was windy and a bit raw with showers now and then - definitely another bad paddling day, but I felt like at least getting outside for a bit, so in keeping with the duck theme I seem to have going here, I decided to go to Prospect Park for a walk around  the lake, see if I could find any neat new ducks for Project Duckydoodle. 

This guy was new to me, but turned out not to be all that neat, at least by birder standards. Interesting looking but not a native duck. He's a Khaki Campbell, a domestic variety of duck noted for egg-laying -- I suspect somebody let him go when they figured out this duck was not going to be the source of many omelets. I think the female is a mallard (Khaki Campbell is crossbreed that includes mallards so close enough). This pair was hanging out just north of the Boathouse. I somehow figured out the variety without help but I'd originally asked my birder friend Mary what kind he was and she mentioned that escaped or released domestic ducks are very common near the Boathouse. 

I continued to follow the trail that borders the Lullwater. This small flock of Ring-necked Ducks was the next interesting set of ducks I found; I'd actually seen some before the Khaki Campbells but they were pretty far away, too far for good pictures. 
I sat down on a tree root to watch this group for a while. This was actually one of the kinds of ducks I'd hoped to see, one of my Facebook friends had had some nice pictures of them not too long ago and in fact that may have been what put the idea that I hadn't been for a walk in Prospect Park in an awfully long time into my head. 

Very attractive little ducks. It's hard to see in these pictures, although there's a hint on the 2nd drake in the 1st picture, but the drakes have a nice purple sheen to their heads. They're called ring-decked ducks because the drakes also have this very subtle chestnut-colored ring around their necks- if you click on the picture above for the bigger version, I think you can see it. 

They didn't seem to mind me or the very excited fisherfolk on the other side of the water, they seemed to be going about their business quite calmly - but suddenly they all broke into a run and flew away. A moment later a pair of swans came cruising into the area that the ringnecks had just vacated - wonder if that was what spooked them so thoroughly?

Graceful swan

Slightly less dignified - must be some tasty pondweed down on the bottom, one of the swans moved on through but this one stuck around dabbling for quite a while. In fact I moved on before he (or she) did.

Out of the Lullwater now and following the north shore of Prospect Park Lake.

I paused again for a while to watch this flock of coots. 

Now walking along the western edge of the lake. Here's a nice pair of black ducks. 

And some northern shovelers. 

Lots of pairing off, or reaffirming previous pairings, going on right now as birds are moving back to their nesting grounds. These two were doing a little spinning dance.

Shovelers are marked a bit like mallards, only a little more white, but there's no mistaking them once you get a good look at that big shovel of a bill - that's what they're named for, after all.

Uh oh, looks like I've been coot in the rain. 

Ruddy duck in the rain

Female norther shoveler in the rain

And a ducky day in the park draws to a drizzly close.  

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