Friday, April 10, 2009

Duck Pond Story #4

Today I arrived shortly before dawn. There was a chill still in the air; a coat and warm shoes were needed.

When I entered the pond this morning the more colorful of the ducks - the Ring Teal, Baikal Teal and Mandarin had taken center stage.

The Ring Teals seemed to be lovingly touching beaks while perched on a wood box  (Did I interrupt something?) while a Baikal Teal drake and his hen had a cozy one-on-one on the “bridge” exchanging Soulful glances.  Their beautiful intricate green and black patterned heads and spikey maroon and white feathers were particularly vivid this morning.  One female, interested in a liaison, was seen to be flying toward her mate who eventually left the box and moved to the edge of the pond.

Meanwhile, the Mandarins, though quiet in sound level were quite ready to “go at it” as soon as dawn broke.  drake was first of all seen inspecting his own purple, orange and white feathers while the female watched with interest.   Little by little the Mandarin drakes edged around a female who had no objection!  Soon the inevitable occurred with the popular female being courted by two males at once!  After it was all finished both were jubilant, splashing in the water, and spreading their wings with radiant demeanor.
The Silver Teals with beautiful almost monochromatic stripes and bright blue bills were

dragging behind the others in courtship progression.  The female was busy hiding behind a post while the male made an impassioned 
quacking display to get her to come out (she did not and retreated further behind the post!)

My eyes shifted to the baikal teals ago who were having a brief face-off on the bridge.  Two females hung out at the sides while he drakes with their magnificently patterned green black and white faces eyed each other intently. Were they working out selection details?  “I’d like the one on the right” I imagined him saying.

I wish I had had three cameras since as all this was going on, the cinnamon teals floating in the water and facing each other started a rhythmic bobbling of their heads, possibly indicating a  n upcoming liason.   As the synchronize

d nodding and bobbing of heads gathered 
momentum, I was hard-pressed to make a decision as to what to watch.
Meanwhile, the Rosy-bill Drake, with vivid scarlet beak and black and grey plumage busied himself with endless and elegant displays of different wing positioning for a potential audience.  These  postures did not go unnoticed as afterwards the female rosybill went flying through thewater toward the male, doing a few wingspread of her own along the way.

After these whirlwind “displays” both birds turned toward each other as well as toward my camera, facing me directly as if to say, “So what do you think?”

As nothing further seemed to be happening with the Cinnamon Teals who were taking a short break from each other, my attention shifted to the endearing somewhat whimsical  black and green Chiloen Widgets who actually were "Bill
to Bill”.  They nestled closely together in the water, nodding their heads rhythmically as if to agreeing “Yes, this is the
  Loud notes of quacking and assent came from them  as shortly thereafter they swum away together, presumably to find a more quiet corner of the pond.

I was sorry to leave at 8am, as the sun ten minutes earlier had broken through all the clouds and the birds were obviously gearing up to still greater frolicking.  But I did have to go to my “other job!”

Sometimes after I look through my photos on a day like this I find one or two that makes me feel hushed and reverent, tears almost coming to my eyes at the totally innocent beauty of these animals and the energy they bring to their life in the pond on this not quite warm spring day. The photo of the female Mandarin spreading her wings exuberantly after courtship made me feel this way when I saw it after I’d left the pond.

Beautiful Mandarin, Trumpeter Swan and Barrows Goldeneye

Good morning, here are 3 more beautiful waterbirds from our exhibit, Waterbirds In Love, at the Connecticut Audubon Society in Pomfret ! ...