Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holes in the water

We stopped on a shady curve in the trail at Reifel Island, where a mixed flock of ducks, dabblers and divers together, rested in a shallow, muddy little bay. I tossed in duck seed, and they splashed, up-ended, dived, collided, and occasionally fought, each after his preference.

Northern pintail, coot, and mallards.

I was surprised at how well the water seemed to hold its shape, sometimes bubbly, sometimes in a slow upwards splash, sometimes leaving depressions and outright holes in the surface, even after the ducks had moved on to the next handful of seed. Could the mud content and the temperature, just this side of freezing, have anything to do with it? Or were our cameras faster than usual? Or have I just not been noticing?

Scaups and mallard rear ends.

When the divers went down, they carved out a hole for their head and made another for the feet, rolling from one to the other. (Look closely at the duck in the middle, above.) In our photos, several of these double holes show up with no diver visible at all.

I'll have to watch the water more closely next time; maybe that's the way it always is, and I've been distracted by the ducks themselves.


  1. The only birds (other than the ever present ravens) that I saw at the cabin this trip were two Merganzers. They had brown heads, so I couldn't tell if they were first year males or females. I guessed young males since there were two just hanging out like teens at a burger joint. - Margy

  2. I had no idea they made duck seed. I'm going to grow me some.

  3. Margy, "teens at a burger joint"! It's funny how behaviour crosses boundaries; I've noticed crows and chickadees acting like teenagers, too.

    Murr, That's why there are so many mallards at Reifel. They hand out bags and bags of seed at the entrance. :D

  4. I like the little "holes" they make - did you notice right behind the middle duck in the 2nd shot ... there is a hole shaped like a heart? :=}

  5. Clytie, You're right! I was looking at the bit of foot that I could see, and never noticed the shape of the hole.


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