We have both “residents” and “visitors” at the Moorings. The herons drop by on an almost daily basis – one never knows when or if they will be visiting while walking around the grounds. The other day, we saw this white heron wading in East Pond.
Today on our walk, we saw this gray heron in almost the same spot. The gray heron we have seen before is bigger than this one, so I think it must be younger and perhaps new in town!
Ducks and swans are permanent residents (the swans leave in the winter and are brought back in early spring). Alas, no cygnets this year – second year in a row! But there are lots of duck families and recently a large group of Canada geese with their half-grown broods came for a swim on East Pond.
There is a red-wing blackbird always scolding us with his tsks and sharp calls. He flies from tree to tree, following us as we circle the pond.
Canada goose, mute swan, and mallard pair (Arlington Heights, IL – USA)
These are the most common species to see in our ponds. The swans and ducks are welcome, but the Canada geese are always “crashing” and they make a mess of our walkways!!
Heron, swan and ducks (Arlington Heights)
This gray heron is a daily visitor to our ponds. He wades in the tall grasses and looks for fish – a few days ago we saw him catching and eating a fish, but alas! We didn’t have our cameras with us!
Vultures and marabou stork (Tanzania)
These scavengers clean the bones from a kill that the hunter has already abandoned. We often saw a sort of scavenger hierarchy, waiting in line for their turn: hyena, jackal, vulture, stork – all eyeing the carcass as a lion made a meal of its kill.
Snowy Egret and Gray Heron (Aswan, Egypt)
We had few opportunities to photograph wildlife in Egypt – most of our days were spent at ancient Egyptian temples and ruins. But our last day in Aswan, we spent part of a morning on a leisurely boat ride to look for wildlife. Mostly we saw birds – this egret and heron, cormorants, and a few unidentified small birds.
A couple of weeks ago, before the swans returned, my husband and I were taking a walk around our campus, and saw an interesting bird on West Pond, the larger of our two ponds. It was a group of six black & white ducks (or they seemed to be ducks), smaller than mallards, and they were diving birds, unlike mallards. They would dive and not surface for several seconds, then one by one, they’d pop up again. They reminded me of loons in that way, but I knew they weren’t loons. And also they seemed to have choreographed moves: they would swim one direction and then, all together, they would switch and go the other way. We had never seen these ducks before. I went home and searched on the Internet and concluded that they were bufflehead ducks. We grabbed our cameras with telephoto lenses and headed back to the pond.
After downloading the photos, I could see that they were indeed bufflehead ducks, which have somewhat enlarged heads, black & white with fluorescent green around their neck (which we couldn’t see in the photos – the birds were too far away). I concluded they were all males. Someone told me that they are often seen on Lake Arlington, about a mile north of here. So I guess they just decided to drop in and check out our pond! The next day, they were gone.
The great thing about these two challenges this week is that these ducks are basically black & white, so there’s no color missing in their plumage in these monochrome photos!
The Bird Weekly photo challenge this week invites us to share the feathered friends that visit or live in our home space. We have a lot of birds on the campus of our senior community, but I am only including those who actually come into our yard – ducks, geese, and robins!
Although this particular Canada goose was not in our yard at the time I took this photo (I just really like this photo), we do often get visits from flocks of these guys who think they own the place!
Here are three photos I took in sequence of several ducks who hang out together – in the pond, taking a nap on shore, or taking walks in people’s yards! Over the summer, these ducks proliferated, and now that their young have grown, large groups of ducks are in abundance!