Friday, October 23, 2009

Rainy day on Cougar Creek

It looked like rain. But maybe there was time for a quick walk around Cougar Creek Park before it started.

There wasn't. We walked around the lake, anyhow, shielding our cameras inside our jackets. We need shoulder-strapped umbrellas.

First drops of rain.

Good mushrooming weather. These shaggy manes were right beside the path.

The others weren't so easy to identify:

Small purple balls, barely an inch across.

Deep vases, mostly full of rainwater.

The bushes and trees, dark and dripping, were full of birds. We saw a pair of wrens, flickers, a cute little downy woodpecker, besides the usual robins, crows, sparrows and mallards.

And this:

I know it's blurry; that's the best we could do. Here's the story:

Under the trees at the first bridge over Cougar Creek, there was a great commotion of splashing. A few mallards were diving for leaves. Yes, they were mallards. Green heads on the males, drab females, blue speculum on all. But they were diving, not just up-ending to reach for the bottom. They weren't too good at it, hence the splashing.

We watched as repeatedly they went down, well underwater, selected a sunken leaf, brought it to the surface and abandoned it. Laurie says they were playing, not feeding.

One, the one in the photo, was different. A hybrid. Long neck, like a grebe's, drab brown, with speckles of grey and green on the head, ring around the neck, and the blue speculum. This one was a good diver; it went down and disappeared, coming up some time later, and a good distance away. Still splashed more than most diving ducks do, though.

After a while, another small flock of mallards swam down the creek and joined the divers. These ones dabbled, like puddle ducks are supposed to.

Questions: is the good diver a grebe/mallard hybrid? And did he teach his brood-mates the game?


1 comment:

  1. Interesting thought. I guess that is how evolution works, but don't know for sure. Great mushroom captures. They do lots of commercial picking up here in the woods this time of year. Some are locals, but others come to make some quick money. We've never tried it so I don't know which are safe and which are not. - Margy


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