Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Puddle Ducks

Ok, so the Papago Ponds aren't exactly puddles, but they're pretty small. The Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix do a great job of drawing in desert specialist species, hummingbirds, and some migrants. The Papago Ponds, just a block down the street, take care of the waterfowl.
It's nice to have these popular and smaller water features. They've allowed me to get some nice and close photos of Shovelers, Pintails, Ring-Necked Ducks, and Coots. It seems like there's always something interesting floating in these ponds; they're definitely worth visiting by if you're in the neighborhood.

The star this time was this single male Canvasback. This is only the second Canvasback I've seen this winter, and the first full-plumage male. Of course, he was the only duck that kept well away from the shore. Canvasbacks are the largest and longest of the diving ducks, and are pretty handsome even from far away.


They dive to the bottom of the ponds and pull up the roots and tubers of aquatic plants. Sometimes when they resurface they'll be quite muddy.



These diving ducks are tricky to photograph, but they're a lot of fun to watch.



Then there's the Pied-Billed Grebe, which can be found on most of the ponds throughout Phoenix and is content to float close to the shore unless he's feeling embarrassed about something, in which case he'll dive out of sight.



This grumpy Ring-Necked Duck really seemed like he was looking for a fight.


This mild-mannered Gadwall did not want to fight at all. I can't blame him, he's got his nice breeding plumage coming in on his head; I wouldn't want to get that hairdo messed up either.


The biggest curiosity of the day was this Black-Necked Stilt. The Stilts themselves are a common enough sight at the waterworks around town, but I've never seen them floating in the water before. I've only ever seen them in the shallows, and never in more than a few inches of water. They have very long skinny toothpick legs and non-palmated feet, so swimming can't be easy for them.

However, a nearby man with his young daughters was tossing bread in the water and this Stilt decided it was worth the risk, so in he went! He acquitted himself admirably, but definitely avoided any rough stuff with the competitive Coots nearby.

14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It's very nice to have such pretty things floating on our neighborhood ponds.

      Delete
  2. These are all lovely Laurence! Wish I could get up close to Pintails, I love those ducks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're mighty handsome. If you ever end up in Arizona you'll be in luck!

      Delete
  3. Great close-ups! Ah...I already need some more Arizona birding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll just have to have more "business" in AZ

      Delete
  4. What wonderful close-up photos. I have never seen such detail before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dan. The small murky ponds around Phoenix don't make for the prettiest setting, but they do bring the birds nice and close.

      Delete
  5. I would love to have seen the stilt with eiderdentity issues. It obviously has some sort of psychological mallardy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hehehe you should take that show on the road.
      I've sta for like 10 minutes now trying to think of something clever to add...got nothin'.

      Delete
  6. Excellent photos Laurence! The sharpness (and the facial expression) on the Ring-necked are superb! That Canvasback is gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tammy! For some reason the Ring-Necks make it really easy on me. They must be my kindred spirit duck (that's a real thing right?)

      Delete
  7. Excellent series! So many lovely birds at these ponds! Love the Handsome Canvasback, elegant stilt and beautiful Ring-necked Duck, though all are stunning. Terrific post!

    ReplyDelete