Mallard Time

Mallards are a pretty dabbling duck, especially when nice lighting brightens up the males’ iridescent green heads and both the male/female’s white-bordered, blue speculum wing patch.  They are an abundant, year-round resident in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Here are a few of my favorite images of our local Mallards since the first of the year.

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“Mallards On Ice”
(41 total here!)

 

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” Ice Steppin’ “

 

Male Mallard coming in for a landing

 

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Male Mallard

 

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“Cruise at Sunset”

 

I wish I were more in focus on the male in this next photo of a Mallard Hybrid with a female Mallard.  The male hybrid is a Mallard/Northern Pintail mix.

It looks quite different seeing a blue bill on a Mallard instead of bright yellow bill, doesn’t it?!!

 

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Male Mallard/Northern Pintail Hybrid with a female Mallard

 

Here is a male Northern Pintail for comparison.

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Male Northern Pintail (blue bill)

 

Finally, another flight series of a male Mallard coming in for a landing.

“Look out!”

 

Thankfully, there were no casualties when he landed!  🙂

 

 

February’s Full Moon

This month’s full moon officially occurred today, February 19th, at 10:53 a.m. EST.

Since we were to cloud over this afternoon for the incoming early morning snow, my plans looked thwarted for tonight’s rising of the Super Moon at sunset.

We did, however, have clear skies this morning, so instead I photographed the full moon setting at sunrise.

The setting moon still gave a nice show this morning as the sun began to rise.

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Moon Setting at Sunrise – February 19, 2019

 

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Moon Setting at Sunrise – February 19, 2019

 

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Moon Setting at Sunrise – February 19, 2019

 

I am looking forward to the photos those of you were able to take tonight!

 

 

Red-tailed Hawk

Just up the road prior to the Bald Eagle shared in my previous post, we first saw a Red-tailed Hawk perched on the power lines running along my side of the road.

We stopped and I photographed the hawk out my car window.  The Bald Eagle may have given me its eagle-eye, but not this hawk.  The Red-tailed Hawk never changed it’s stare to the field below.

 

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Red-tailed Hawk

 

That last photo and the previous Bald Eagle photo were taken a few days ago.  Today, while riding down Key Wallace Drive again, we saw the Red-tailed Hawk perched in the same area on the power lines.  And again, the hawk never broke its stare down to the field below while I took photos.

 

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Red-tailed Hawk

 

I am sure it was watching something more interesting than me both times!

(photos taken along Key Wallace Drive, Blackwater NWR)

 

 

Eagle-Eye

 

We came up on a Bald Eagle sitting in a tree hanging over the road.  Not another car in sight so my husband was able to stop underneath it.  I shot this through our car’s sunroof, taking a quick half dozen photos.

With no time to be choosy to set up, these are the kind of opportunities that are all about luck with focus and how the branches play out on the face.

It is a shame I caught little branches across its face; but I still love this shot, the only one worth keeping.

 

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Bald Eagle

 

He definitely locked his eagle-eye on us.  Getting an opportunity to look down into our car, there’s no telling what this Bald Eagle was thinking as it watched us drive away.

Besides “crazy people”….

(photo taken along Key Wallace Drive, Blackwater NWR)

 

 

Canada Geese Taking Flight

Just after sunrise on Valentine’s Day, I watched a skein of Canada Geese fly into and land in the still-shaded waters of Cambridge Creek.

They slowly swam their way up to and past me, coming to the creek’s end.  The sun was now high enough to lighten up the water, giving awesome reflection opportunities.

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Canada Goose

 

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Canada Geese

 

The sail boat masts and piers were reflecting cool patterns around them as the water got brighter and a slight breeze kicked up.

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Canada Geese

 

Unable to go any further, the stopped geese looked around and at each other.

Then the loud honking began.

Plans were discussed.

An agreement was made.

And then their take-off started.

 

I’ve seen this scenario so many times.  But this time, instead of locking on and following several as they took off, I stood camera-steady and held down my shutter button, surprisingly getting 14 images before my camera and battery said, “enough, we need to catch up!”

The Canada Geese efforts as well as their flight and water patterns that developed were pretty cool and I thought enjoyable to share.

To see these best, click on the first image to follow through the sequence.

 

Canada Geese taking flight

 

Did you notice the pair of Ruddy Ducks in the top left corner of the photos?  Luckily, they didn’t get run over!   😊

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Beautiful driftwood carving seen few days ago in a store for sale in St. Michaels, MD

 

I didn’t luck out on any recent wildlife ‘heart’ photos, so I’m sharing a throwback from 2012.

It wasn’t until I was viewing my photos back then that I noticed the ‘heart’ within the Great Egret neck’s crook.  Do you see it too?

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Great Egret “Heart” – taken at Chincoteague NWR, Virginia

 

 

I hope you have/had a  ❤  of a day!

 

 

A Great Day Birding On Cambridge Creek

When the Bald Eagle landed on our community’s Osprey nest platform a few days ago (post here), it was just the beginning of a surprising great day of birding on Cambridge Creek right from my balcony.  It was mostly a cloudy day, but I lucked out with some peeks of sun here and there.

Eleven species total!  I don’t think I’ve seen this many species on just one day here on the creek.  With lots of mingling, sleeping, preening, diving, and following each other around, it was a delight to just watch the action.  Eventually, each specie (except the Ring-billed Gull) ventured close for some nice shots to share.  I twiddled my images down to no more than a couple close-ups for each specie and a few ‘crowd mingling’ extras.

We’ve been recently hosting about 10-20 Lesser Scaup on the creek daily.  That morning after the Bald Eagle departed, we had two flocks totaling over 100 Lesser Scaup fly in joining our daily group.  Two shots here showing most of them.

Lesser Scaup on Cambridge Creek

 

          Lesser Scaup (4 males, 1 female)                                    Lesser Scaup (male & female)

 

I noticed two different ducks mixed in with the flocks.  One was a male Canvasback.  He was very skittish with the surroundings and stayed close to the Lesser Scaup most of the time.

            Canvasback (male)                                         Canvasback & Lesser Scaup (both males)

 

The other was this lovely surprise, a male Long-tailed Duck.  He seemed shy to the others but tried a few times to be included in the group, following along.

Long-tailed Duck (male)

 

I was pretty excited with the Long-tailed Duck.  I had only captured them once prior in flight, so he was a awesome treat.

All this duck ruckus got the curiosity of our creek’s winter water residents who ventured to the party to hang out as well.

 

Ruddy Duck (male)                                                    Ruddy Ducks

 

Pied-billed Grebe

 

Mallard (male)                                                      Herring Gull

 

The Common Goldeneye wanted to be left alone and kept trying to get away from the crowds.

 

Common Goldeneye (male)

 

Even Cassie, the injured Canvasback, showed up.  But she, too, kept away and to herself.  I was hoping the male Canvasback would take notice of Cassie, but I never saw them two mingled.  Oh wait…come to think of it, both of them did disappear a little later.  Hmmmm…..  😉

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“Cassie” Canvasback (female)

 

A flock of seven Canada Geese appeared to be making an effort to fly into the creek but aborted, I’m guessing because it was too crowded and no open space.  They continued on to find another location to land.

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Canada Geese

 

As mentioned, there was a lot of mingling.  Everyone got along, and we all know there is safety in numbers!

 

 

As is usually the case with flocks, when a few get the itch to leave, the rest will follow.  Most of the ducks were gone by the afternoon.

 

Lesser Scaup taking flight

 

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Lesser Scaup heading down the creek

 

Only a couple dozen Lesser Scaup and seven Ruddy Ducks remained late that day, as well as our other winter residents who went back into hiding within the marina piers and bulkheads.

It was quiet the next few days, basically back to normal.  And then during the last several days of rain, sleet, and wind, a large number of Lesser Scaup have returned, to take refuge from the weather.  Hopefully they will stick around for a while, even if just to watch them.