This was the first time that I can remember going on a weekday. The paths were almost deserted, except for a few people mainly sitting or squatting quietly behind their tripods and long lenses. And the birds! I have never seen so many, nor so many different kinds on one visit as we did yesterday. I think that on weekends, many must be hiding from the crowds.
We have far too many photos for one blog post, so I'll do this in easy stages. Today, the dabbling ducks.
Mallards, of course:
(Added: well, half mallards, anyhow. Hugh says, in the comments, that the male is a mallard/pintail cross. He has photos of the same bird on his blog.)
In contrast to their usual weekend behaviour, when they mob us, demanding handouts, yesterday they sat calmly on the water, gossiping among themselves.
Mixing with them were coots (more on these, later), wigeons, pintails, Canada geese, a few northern shovelers, and, I think, a few greater scaup.
Pintail. Isn't he handsome? And he knows it.
Mallard, enjoying a joke
Female wigeon? Sometimes it's quite hard to distinguish between them, especially with the mallard propensity for cross-breeding.
It was all very restful; the sun on our backs, the music overhead (red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, house finch, swallows, and something else, never quite identifiable), the contented quacking and croaking from the waterways, even the occasional photographer; "Stand here," several told me, "the light is right."
A deceptive peace. We stopped to photograph a party of coots, and I tempted them with bird seed. A few mallards came over to investigate. And one male objected to the presence of the second, too close to his mate, it seems. He attacked, and the other fought back. It wasn't just the usual irritable pecking at the underdog; this was a real battle, on water, then on land, behind us, in front of us, then back in the water again, rushing at each other, flailing and squawking angrily.
After a few minutes of this, I remembered my camera. Here they are:
Finally it ended. One mallard left, with the other pursuing for a few metres, then returning victorious to his mate. The neighbourly chatter resumed. All was well.