Nature Viewing


Duck Soup - An Explanation - (posted - 12 Jul 13)

Earlier, Dottie Wais submitted photos of a strange looking group of ducks, a domestic white one and two American Black ducks that appeared in her yard and began following Dolf around.  Ron Horton has provided an explanation for this behavior.  Thanks, Ron.

"Black Ducks, like most dabbler ducks, will often socialize with domestic fowl if in a safe, quiet environment with a good food supply.  They frequent the same quiet backwaters and ponds where domestic waterfowl are often found.  If fed they will often take up residence instead of migrating.  They will become tame.  This is most commonly seen with Mallards which are our region's most common dabbler and the duck species from which all other dabblers are descended. Blacks will also readily crossbreed with other dabblers and I think this may be the case with this pair.  Pure strain Blacks do not have any white outline on the wing patches and the bills are usually a solid greenish yellow or olive color depending on the sex.  My guess is that these may be a Mallard/Black hybrid.  Pretty ducks and they are very wary in the wild so not often seen up close.  I've seen a barnyard goose or duck serve as the apparent ringleader for these "converts" before in my many years of waterfowl hunting.  Thanks for sharing the picture Dottie & Dolf ." - Ron Horton

Duck Soup - How'd That Happen? - (posted - 20 Jun 13)

Dottie Wais has reported a strange wildlife phenomenon.  On June 19, 2013, three ducks showed up at the Wais place, spent the afternoon there, and followed Dolf around outside before heading off to the lake for a dip.  The strange thing was that Huey, Dewey and Louie (Dottie's labels for them) aren't all one species.  Two are wild American black ducks and one is a domesticated white duck who appeared to be the leader of the pack.

They're tame enough to pose for close-up photography and are apparently interested in congregating with our resident herd of geese.

If they start cozying up to the vultures, perhaps we should be be on the lookout for a remake of The Birds.  Are there any wannabe ornithologists out there who could explain this?

Thanks, Dottie for the photographic proof!

Mallard Bay Resident Rescues Wildlife - (entered - 12 Jun 11)

Gary Garrett and Karen Johnson had a memorable encounter with nature on Sunday, June 12.  Karen reports:

"I went out to check on the pond after Sunday breakfast and saw an odd sight.  At first, I thought it was Big, the big frog, sticking his tongue out, but on further inspection it appeared to our beloved little Picky the Pickerel frog's feet.  I yelled for Gary, the frog talker to come quickly.  At first it looked like Picky was gone, but then we noticed some movement inside Big's belly.  Gary acted quickly and tried to grab Picky's feet, but only scared the now called Big the Bully frog who jumped into the pond.  A second later Gary saw Picky's feet in the pond and pulled on them and Picky popped out, swam to the edge and climbed to safety.  The last picture is of Picky, somewhat traumatized, hiding under the mondo grass."

Click on the gruesome photo of your choice for a large, full-color image, suitable for framing.

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Great Egrets Come To Mallard Bay - (revised - 20 Aug 10)

Recently, pairs of great egrets have been spotted along Bush Mill Stream.  According to the National Audubon Society's Field Guide for Birds" (eastern region),  the great egret is:

"...a large, all-white heron with a yellow bill and black legs.  In breeding plumage, it has long lacy plumes on its back.

Formerly known as the 'American Egret, 'Common Egret', 'Large Egret', 'White Egret', 'Great White Egret', and 'Great White Heron', this bird's official name in North America is  now 'Great Egret'.  One of the most magnificent of our herons, it has fortunately recovered from historic persecution by plume hunters.  Like the Great Blue Heron, it usually feeds alone, stalking fish, frogs, snakes and crayfish in shallow water.  Each summer many individuals, especially young ones, wander far north of the breeding grounds."

On a personal note, these birds seem to be far more willing to allow humans on foot or in boats to approach them than their cousins, the Great Blue Herons.  Additionally, due to their white coloration, they are much easier to spot than the great blues against a green background of trees. - Scott McGuire

Yellow-Rumped Warblers Spotted - (entered - 4 Nov 08)

Fall migration is underway and the yellow-rumped warbler has been present on all six of our last morning walks.  They love to eat wax myrtle berries and we find them in these bushes on the Canvasback loop.  At first blush they appear to be just another LBB (little brown bird) but at close look they have a patch of yellow on their backs just above the tail feathers and yellow streaks where the wings fold on the breast.  Affectionately called "butter butts" at the Kiptopeke State Park bird banding station, these warblers are half of the 8,000 or so birds banded there each year.  How nice to return from banding to find them in large numbers here in Mallard Bay. - Cindi Bonnet