Monday, February 24, 2020

DUCKS AT HUNTLEY MEADOWS, ALEXANDRIA, VA

On Saturday it was sunny and in the 50s.  Looking outside we felt it was too good a day to waste.  We decided to go to Huntley Meadows where much to our surprise, the parking lot spaces were all taken (everyone else had the same idea).  No problem, we parked on the side of the road that enters the park, along with a couple of dozen other vehicles.  Our favorite part for our walk is along the boardwalk across the marshy wetlands.   There we saw several ducks, a couple I had never seen before. I had hoped to see some water birds but didn’t expect this many. 
The first ones we came across were the Northern Shoveler. 
You can see right away why they are named.  Their beak is shovel-shaped. 
It is a medium-sized bird, larger than an American Coot but smaller than a Mallard.  Its eyes are yellow and it has an over-sized black bill.  It also has reddish-brown flanks, with a white chest and black back.  
There is more information if you click on any of the red lettering in my posts.  Also if you belong to to Facebook or Instagram, you can see amazing photos that people share from Huntley Meadows.  
This one is the Northern Pintail.  I have never seen this one before.  Reading from the website...
"Breeding male Northern Pintails stand out with a gleaming white breast and a white line down their chocolate brown head and neck.  
Females and males that are molting (eclipse plumage) are mottled in browns and whites with an unmarked pale tan face and a dark bill.  In flight, males flash a green speculum (the inner wing feathers or secondaries) and females flash a bronzy speculum.
There are great photos at this website.
Next comes the Green-winged Teal, another I hadn't actually seen before.
 It is the smallest dabbling duck in North America. It also has a cinnamon-colored head with a gleaming green crescent that extends from the eye to the back of the head.
In both females and males, they have deep-green wing patches (specula).  
They can be found on shallow ponds and in flooded fields, and wintering flocks can number as many as 50,000.
The last ducks I am sharing today are the Mallards.
These are more familiar to us than the other ducks we saw today.
The Mallard is the ancestor of nearly all domestic breeds (everything except the Muscovy Duck).  Domestic ducks can be common in city ponds and can be confusing to identify.  They may lack the white neck ring, show white on the chest, be all dark or show oddly shaped crests on the head.  I read this and other interesting facts about the Mallard at this site.
I put a few of the photos and names in a collage to end my post, using Paint Shop Pro.
There will be another post on the rest of the park as soon as I can put one together.

Thank you for stopping by 
and enjoy your day.








26 comments:

  1. The Green winged Teals are gorgeous!! We just saw some Shovelers for the first time last year. And there are many Mallards around. But I have not seen these other ducks. It was sure worth the trip!

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    1. They are, that green is such a striking color and it certainly was worth the trip. Thanks Ginny :)

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  2. Hello Denise, pretty photos and a great variety of ducks. I loved them all.
    Wishing you a happy day!

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    1. Hello Eileen, thank you so much and the same to you :)

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  3. Awesome duck photos and you take the time to write an interesting description which hits the best points for easy identification.

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  4. You have so many parks to visit in your area. Lucky you!

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    1. Thank you Gigi, we do feel blessed to have many to choose from :)

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  5. these are each and every one so pretty, I love all the colors on each one. I would like to visit there myself. I especially like the pintail butt shot. love it in fact. at the office today while waiting on a mammograms', there was a male mallard trying to come in the door with a lady. she closed the door in his face and he stood there staring in the glass door. gave us a good laugh

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    1. I can just picture the mallard's indignation Sandra. Thanks for the chuckle :)

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  6. I do love watching all of the above. Beautiful images today. Thanks for the invite.

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  7. We also saw an assortment of geese, gulls and ducks on the Nashua River this weekend, Denise. Our daytime temps were as warm as yours. The pinwheel looked similar to an unusual one we spotted as there were several which were constantly diving, something not done by the usual mallards we always spot.

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    1. Thank you Beatrice, that sounds very interesting :)

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  8. GREAT shots! Love that bright green!

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    1. Thank you Sandi, I loved the bright green too :)

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  9. Nice to see some ducks.. I used to have ducks growing up and I loved them. They would follow me around the yard.
    Now all I see is mostly Canadian geese. Not a fan of them.

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    1. Hi Betsy, that must be a very nice memory from childhood. Thank you :)

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