Ruddy Ducks At Kent Narrows

The final post on the 3-part series of my “Duck Dynasty at Kent Narrows” profiles the cute little Ruddy Duck.  The female Ruddy Ducks were the least skittish of all the ducks and would come the closest to the bulkhead between the boats and along the piers, many napping while keeping an eye on me.  The males primarily were out in the open water with the rest of the ducks, diving and feeding so I didn’t get but a couple chances of close-ups on the males.

To me, they always look like they’re smiling.  :-)

Male Ruddy Duck

Male Ruddy Duck

Female Ruddy Duck

Female Ruddy Duck

Male Ruddy Duck

Another Female Ruddy Duck

Two Female Ruddy Ducks Napping

Two Female Ruddy Ducks Napping

Female Ruddy Duck

Female Ruddy Duck

Female Ruddy Duck & Male Canvasback

Female Ruddy Duck & Male Canvasback

See ya!

See ya!

 

Canvasbacks At Kent Narrows

To continue from my last post about all those ducks feeding around the KIYC Marina piers and bulkhead at Kent Narrows, I scored many great shots of the Canvasbacks, who outnumbered the rest of the ducks.  On occasion, the sun would peak out.

It was difficult to select just a couple, soooooo…..

Male Canvasback

Male Canvasback

Female Canvasback

Female Canvasback

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A couple Canvasback dives!

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Now you see me……

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And now I am outta here!

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This fella had a notion it was nicer to pose on a sheet of ice.

The next photo is my favorite in this series.

See ya!

See ya!

Duck Dynasty at Kent Narrows

Crossing the Rt. 18 Watermen’s Bridge over the Kent Narrows Channel to run an errand late afternoon a few days ago, I spotted a large quantity of ducks in the waters around the Kent Island Yacht Club piers and bulkhead where the ice buildup had melted.  Quickly finishing my errand, rechecked on return to see if they were still there (YEP!), home to get the camera, and then back to the ducks.

I spent about 90 minutes taking 554 photos in mostly cloudy conditions.  It really was a Duck Dynasty of beauties!

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Canvasbacks, American Coots, Ruddy Ducks, Redheads, Lesser Scaup

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Canvasbacks, Redheads, Lesser Scaup

If they saw me, they would move away from land, so I had to compromise shooting from behind boats and my car.

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Shooting from behind a boat.

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Canvasbacks, Redheads, Lesser Scaup, American Coot, Ruddy Duck

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Male & Female Lesser Scaups & Canvasbacks

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Redheads, American Coot, Canvasback

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Canvasbacks, Ruddy Ducks

When I saw the dozen or so Redheads, my heart skipped a beat, lol.  A lifer for me!  :-)  I’d been trying to photograph a Redhead duck for quite a while now.

Male Redheads

Male Redheads

I even saw a male Redhead coming in for a landing and tried my best to stay locked on him.

Male Redhead

Male Redhead

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For some reason, I didn’t get very lucky on close-ups of the Lesser Scaup, but did capture this one.

Male Lesser Scaup

Male Lesser Scaup

Close-up photo ops were galore for the Ruddy Ducks and Canvasbacks, the only two species who started to trust my presence and came a little closer to the bulkhead, and always with an eye on me.  I’ll issue the next two posts of those two  so I don’t overload the ducks on you.  :-)

(Excuse me, friends, for being behind on my blog-reading, I’ll be by soon!)

A Surprise February Visitor

Just before the Marshy Creek ‘freeze-over’, I had mentioned a couple posts back that we experienced extreme low tides, causing a large mud flat to the left of our Osprey nest platform.

Sunday, 2/15/15

Our Extreme Low Tide and unusually large mud flat it created

By luck while out on my balcony, I happen to hear a bird that I knew, then saying to myself, “can’t be….that’s a summer bird”.  I started scanning the mud flat, heard him again, and then spotted him.  It was a Killdeer.  Whether is was a local resident or a migrator, I’d never seen nor had any idea Killdeers could survive this far north and wintered around the Chesapeake Bay.  Obviously, they do.  There were actually a pair to boot!

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Killdeer

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They visited for about five minutes.  I actually heard them the next day but couldn’t spot them.  Nothing since, but of course the ice took over the area.  No matter, I felt fortunate to capture and document that they were indeed here in February!  :-)

A Foggy Eagle

I showed a distant shot in my last post of the fog rolling across frozen Marshy Creek last Wednesday morning.  I took a few more of an American Bald Eagle perched on Lippincott Marina’s entrance channel marker when the sun was rising.

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Getting him to turn to the side so I could capture his beak silhouette was a challenge (‘cuz I was cold!) but he finally obliged.  :-)

 

Icy Kent Narrows Channel

After posting the freeze-over photos of Marshy Creek and the southend of the Kent Narrows Channel, I had a few community neighbors ask if I had gotten a chance to see and take photos of whether all of the Kent Narrows Channel had frozen over.  Last year it did and Maryland DNR’s cutter, the A. V. Sandusky, was sent through to break the thick 9″ ice to help take the stress off the surrounding marinas, bulkheads, and watermens’ boats iced in.

Photos?  Of course, I had.  :-)

Although both ends of the Channel were pretty much frozen over, near the Rt. 18 and Rt. 50 Bridges, centerpoint of the Kent Narrows Channel, the tides’ currents were doing a great job keeping the waters open at the bridges’ bases.  Those pretty swift currents run up to 8-10 mph during its high-end speed.

I got out of the car and took these photos from the Rt. 18 Watermans Bridge the morning of February 20th.

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South Side to the right, where the Kent Narrows watermen keep their boats.  Except for the front right corner, from there back into their marina, the waters were frozen over with the boats iced in.

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South side, looking directly down to Prospect Bay.  Kent Island Yacht Club is upper right.  Big Owl’s Tiki Bar and Bridges Restaurant in upper left.  Our community is to the back left opposite the jetty strip stretching out to the markers upper center.

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South side, to the left.  Tower is where the bridge operator opens and closes the bridge for tall boat traffic year-round.

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North side with a bit more ice trying to freeze over, to the right is Harris Crab House, Red Eyes Dock Bar, with Mears Point Marina at the upper end and behind the restaurant establishments.

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North side, you can see a water channel was still open from the tidal currents.

Kent Narrows Southend Channel shot from my balcony

Kent Narrows Southend Channel shot from my balcony

It is still quite amazing to see this amount of freezing through the swift Kent Narrows Channel.  With the low 40’s temps and strong sunshine today, it surely helped melt it some before the next round of frigid temps.  Geez, today it almost felt tropical outside!  LOL  Well maybe not that nice, but still felt so much better to the body.

Since above might be a bit boring for my birder friends, here’s a shot of a Song Sparrow visiting my make-shift bird feeder set out on my balcony during the snow so they had a chance to find something until the snow melts away.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

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Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Always shy coming to the plate close to our patio doors, I tossed a few out on the snow still on the balcony.

He has been sharing with couple House Finches and Dark-eyed Juncos.  All seem to be happily enjoying ‘cuz the dish is empty when I return home!  :-)

 

Marshy Creek Freezes Over While Waterfowl Try To Survive

This past week brought back the extreme frigid temps to our area, this time they said was the coldest yet for our winter.  They are reporting the upper Chesapeake Bay above the Bay Bridge is almost frozen over.  The big tankers and cargo ships are struggling to make it through the ice.

I started a series of shots to watch the waters of Marshy Creek in case it froze over.  Here you go….

It was last Sunday and days prior, we experienced extreme low tides.  In the following photo, you can see a huge mud flat along the riprap to the left of our Osprey nest platform.  I don’t recall ever seeing this much mud before.  It brought on some activity that I’ll post about later.  Marshy Creek was mostly open waters, with some freezing along the edges.

Sunday, 2/15/15

Sunday Afternoon, 2/15/15

The next morning, here’s the same shot showing how much had frozen overnight during our single digits with wind chills in the minuses.  Only an open water pool remained and Ruddy Ducks & Mallards had taken refuge around it, sleeping and feeding.

Monday Morning 2/16/15

Monday Morning 2/16/15

Monday night we were to get a squall of snow, maybe 5-8″ at most, so I packed up paperwork at the office with plans to hunker down at home Tuesday.  When I got home late afternoon, there were few each of Ruddy Ducks, Mallards, Canada Geese, Canvasbacks, Gulls, and a pair of Gadwells feeding and sleeping.  Awesome!  Now my photo series included birds.  :-)

Monday Afternoon 2/16/15

Monday Afternoon 2/16/15

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Canada Geese, Ruddy Ducks, and mallards stayed to the right in the water

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Canvasbacks stayed to the left, feeding under the ice

By early evening, the quantity of Canvasbacks had increased.  I was glad they were back and hoped they’d stay overnight for some morning watching….ummmm, while I did my office paperwork.

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The next morning, WOW!  The size of the water pool had decreased substantially; and it was slam-full of Canvasbacks and Ruddy Ducks, while a few Canada Geese slept on the ice.  I quickly bundled up and ran out to the balcony to take a series of photos.

Tuesday Morning 2/17/15

Tuesday Morning 2/17/15

In the seconds it takes to take to snap away, I saw something begin to occur in my viewfinder.  Snapped a few more.

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Canvasbacks tightening up.

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Those in the back were flying forward.

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Canvasbacks real tight together now, necks straight up in the air.

With the violent splashing and hearing the Canada Geese on the ice squawking, I looked away from my viewfinder to see what WAS going on.  And in that instant, an American Bald Eagle was up in the air with an unfortunate Ruddy Duck.  I quickly tried to focus on the Eagle as he swooped away and headed to the Osprey nest platform across Marshy Creek to consume breakfast.

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American Bald Eagle and an unfortunate ruddy duck.

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No matter how many times I’ve seen this, I still don’t know whether I felt fortunate to see the circle of life happening or be sad for the little duck.

Life went back to normal in the pool, as the ducks went back to feeding.  The sun even popped out.

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A mixture of canvasbacks and ruddy ducks (minus one)

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About an hour after the Eagle incident, I checked out my window and the Canvasbacks were gone.  Only Ruddy Ducks remained.  Wished I had seen them take off and shot a series!

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Ruddy Ducks

Their pool of water got smaller by the hour.  Next photo is 5 hours later.

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Ruddy Ducks

And why those Ruddy Ducks stayed all afternoon, I can’t figure out.  They were literally ‘sittin’ ducks’.  Two more times I sighted Eagles with one of them.

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Immature American Bald Eagle with his Ruddy Duck

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Another angle….

I’m hoping the decrease in the size of the water pool helped send the Ruddy Ducks on their way, at least so they didn’t become another snack.

Wednesday 2/18/15

Wednesday Morning 2/18/15 – A little fog present and only a couple Ruddy Ducks

THursday Morning 2/19/15

Thursday Morning 2/19/15 – No open pool of water

Today, Saturday 2/21/15

Today, Saturday 2/21/15 – everything is more solid now

Oh, and in case you ask, no I did not get my office work done that day.  Something about birds distracted me…..  :-)

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